by Kit Hinkle
I wrote once about that age of adolescence, when a child who has lost his parent starts to process what the loss means to him. (Click here if you wish to read about it). My twelve year old has been dealing with this process for a year now and is making good strides.
Today he told me about a dream he had about Dad. The conversation that followed helped me to see where he is with the loss and helped him to feel better about having dreams about his father. I wondered whether other widows out there would want a window into that conversation in case it helps them when their children go through something similar.
It went something like this:
Son: Mom, I had another dream about Dad last night.
Me: Was it a tough one?
Son: Not really. He was in his den with the doors shut. Funny thing is during the dream, I knew he was about to die. My little brother was asking me what’s Dad doing, and I didn’t want to upset him, so I told him, “maybe he’s making a surprise for us.”
But when he came out of his office, he was choking. We knew he was dying and we couldn’t do anything about it. He started to grab his stomach while standing and pushed up on it many times, like he was trying to fix whatever was wrong. Like he was trying to save himself.
Me: And did he?
Son: (shakes his head)
Me: (hugging him). I’m sorry. That must have been awful.
Son: It was sad, but I was okay.
Me: (nodding, hugging… silence for a while)
Son: Where do dreams come from?
Me: Lots of people think different things about dreams. Sometimes God could be talking to you in dreams like Nebecanezer or Darius or Joseph in the Bible. Sometimes its that little part of you deep down inside that’s working out whatever’s bothering you.
Son: I don’t get that little part of me thing.
Me: Do you ever get grumpy and you don’t really know why you’re grumpy—it’s like something is bothering you but you can’t figure out what it is until you sit down and just pray about it and just really dig deep to figure out what’s bothering you?
Me: That’s the little you inside of you that sometimes has to work things out before you can be okay with something. So maybe even though you know that Dad couldn’t help having a heart attack and he didn’t choose to leave, maybe that little part of you inside worries that maybe Dad left you?
Son: Naw, I know he didn’t.
Me: I know that, but sometimes it takes time for the deep, deep parts of your heart to believe it too.
Me: If there is any chance that little part of you wondered whether Dad would have he stayed if he could have, your dream kind of answered that question. In your dream, did he try to stop himself from dying?
Me: I can’t possibly know why you had the dream, but I can tell you that Dad loved you more than anything in life, and would never have gone away if he could help it. He was so happy with you.
Son: I know.
Me: So you know what I think? If you have dreams like that, it’s a healthy dream. It means you are processing something that’s bothering you, and that’s going to make you healthier, stronger.
Son: Yep! Can we go to the park today?
So there it is. I’m no expert at this stuff. Just a mom. I could be way off. But if I am, at least he’s talking to me. And that can’t hurt anything!
Hope your conversations go well too!