A story of grief by a man and a boy

primal scream

In the weeks following my wife’s death I was consumed by fear for our son’s future. How would he react? How would I tell him what had happened? Could he grow up happily without her? How would I take care of him when I was finding it so hard to look after myself?

I spoke to a number of sources to help find the answers. In hindsight the idea that I would find actual conclusive answers sounds ridiculous to me. But I guess it’s just a force of habit to expect answers to follow questions. When we get ill we go online and there we can find both the symptoms and the remedies. If we need to know how to cook rice we just grab a recipe book from the shelf and learn how. But my questions about grief have rarely had definitive answers. Just suggestions, maybes and potential outcomes. That’s part of what I think makes grief so hard to deal with in our modern quick-fix society. There are simply no shortcuts or absolute solutions. People can only really give your their views or share stories of their own personal experiences. No one can ever really tell you the future with any confidence, though.

A charity called Winston’s Wish, however, did offer me some great advice. They suggested I encourage my son to release any potential anger caused by the loss of his mum in a controlled environment. The last time I spoke of this he was kicking the shutters on a shop in East Dulwich in a state of confusion caused by seeing a young black woman who must have reminded him a little bit of his mum.

Well yesterday a clumsy little stumble over an invisible obstacle on the kitchen floor saw him bang his lip on his desk, which left him crying for Mummy. Daddy simply wouldn’t do.

“I want my mummy to come back to me. Mummy’s gone away and can’t come back. I want her to come back to meeeeee!”

Once he started he couldn’t stop. He’d been storing it up for a little while and it didn’t really stop all day. I was hurt but totally unsurprised. It’ll be seven months tomorrow since we’ve seen her and I’ve felt exactly the same as him all week.

But it wasn’t just his tears that he needed to release, it was his rage too. Fortunately we were in the perfect place. Yesterday was my goddaughter’s second birthday party in the park. The main game at the event was ‘steal the tail from the lion’ (I’ve made that name up because I don’t know what it’s called), which involves the game’s last winner donning a lion hat and a cloth tail and the other players trying to be named victor by stealing back the tail for themselves. Endless fun for kids and adults alike.

It wasn’t long before Jackson himself was dressed like a miniature feline warrior ready to take on the chase. And how could any winning lion resist a loud roar of celebration? Well he didn’t stop at one. He was roaring all day. In the end I had to take him a little deeper into the park to roar with him in an attempt to get what I saw as his grief rage out of his system because I was afraid he was going to bring on a pregnant friend’s labour.

See I believe we all need a release sometimes. I’ve got my blog. I’ve got a voice and a larger vocabulary than him. I’ve got great family and friends and I can articulate myself to them whenever I wish. Sometimes all a child can do is cry, scream, shout or even roar.

So I say keeping roaring, boy. Daddy’s right here for you whether you’re feeling as tame as a house cat or a wild as the king of the jungle.


My little warrior

5 comments on “primal scream

  1. Kim
    June 9, 2013

    Roar, Jackson, Roar! And Roar, Ben, Roar!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thinking of you.

  2. Jenny Grimson
    June 9, 2013

    What a gorgeous picture. Just the other night my 5 year old daughter was crying saying the same ‘ I want my daddy to come back, why can’t he come back ‘ Breaks my heart.

  3. Bill Wright
    June 9, 2013

    5 months after Ed’s (2) twin, Anni, died I am still waiting for a huge explosion that I can unequivocally tie to his grief and loss rather than it just being the Terrible Twos. I patiently observe him like a bird watcher expecting to gain a window into the depths of his suffering or an indication into what might be getting stored up.
    When prompted he is mostly happy to talk about Anni, the food and TV she liked and various adorable idiosyncrasies she had and these are happy conversations for him, albeit with his Dad sobbing like a baby! So far there have only been two occasions where he has introduced the subject of Anni on his own, both heartbreaking, but neither we’re angry outbursts.
    The first was two months after Anni died and he was in a Hospital with a meningitis scare, in a room a stone’s throw from where Anni had her last and most severe seizure which led to the emergency brain surgery from which she never woke up from. Very upsetting and stressful for all. He looked out of the window, up the sky and said ‘Miss you Anni, come back Anni’. If I wasn’t an atheist maybe I would take that as a sign that Anni was being Ed’s protective Guardian Angel who saw to it that he did not perish just two months after her. Maybe I’ll still take it that way anyway and not attempt to reconcile it against logic.
    the second time was a few days ago when he told me that ‘Anni got told off’. Devastating to think that in his 2 year old brain he is worried Anni has been taken up to the sky for being naughty.

  4. Michaela Turner
    June 9, 2013

    So many times you feel like screaming in sheer disbelief and frustration

  5. 1writeplace
    June 9, 2013

    Hugs to you and your boy! And to the others out there…
    I just got done reviewing a book, Widow Stories by Michelle Latiolais, then writing my reflections on it for my blog and memoir.
    Michelle talks about “…the mythology which the human animal makes sense of pain.” That helped me come to terms with the place I imagine that my husband, sister and grandson reside, which is not The Heaven, but a place my beliefs can deal with.
    Also, I have been roaring and even growling in pain for almost 4 years. I’ve been caught mid “GGGRRRRR!!!” by friends and family and they seem to think it’s normal :>)
    Take care,

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