Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Forgotten Child - Dealing With Death Part Two

I should call these posts, not dealing with death, because in all honesty that is the truth of the matter. Since typing up my previous post, I have been thinking about the day that Clint died, but more so about Chad and the day Clint died. Clint died two months before Chad turned ten. He was little and I keep trying to imagine what it was like for him, what emotions he felt - it is something I cannot even begin to imagine.

For one thing, the staff at that disgusting institution that calls its self a hospital, told us that Chad could not stay at the hospital and Mark arranged for him to stay at a friend. At that point in time, we did not believe that Clint would not make it through the night. For the sake of not causing the slightest issue for fear that they would take it out on Clint, after they finally started to give him the medical treatment he urgently required, we willingly obliged. In hindsight, we should have made Chad stay with us. He left the hospital with the knowledge that his brother was "fine". His brother was talking and saying funny things, Chad was unaware that the funny things Clint was saying were beyond his control. The plan was that Chad slept at the friend and the next day he would not go to school, because we knew Clint was seriously injured and my mother would look after him, whilst Mark organised work and I stayed at the hospital and my mother would bring Chad to see Clint. Well that was not to be. Instead Chad came home to be told that his brother was dead. Chad was angry when Mark fetched him from the friend. His anger a result of fear and worry, not knowing what was happening and being shunned and ignored.

Chad - Photo Take With My Very Old Basic Samsung Phone Around Feb 2007

It took about an hour after we told him that Clint had died for him to react. He screamed and kicked and thrashed, we could not console him or hold him or comfort him. Broken parents trying to comfort a little boy, parents who could not understand or make sense of the past 12 hours trying to make a little boy understand. We phoned our general practioner, who said he would see us straight away and gave us all anxiety medicine and prescribed Atarax, in liquid form for Chad. Besides being an antihistamine, it is also used to treat anxiety and tension. Our doctor also arranged for us to see a therapist the next day. We never went to get the medication, but the father of Clint's friend who was at the crash site, arrived at our house as soon as we arrived back from the doctor and he went to get the medication for us. He was at crash site, because he was dropping his son off at extra maths and they drove past the crash scene and when they got to maths, just around the corner, they saw Clint not at maths and his friend asked the dad to stop and check in case it was Clint. Their worst fears came true.

People started coming around to our house and it did not stop the whole day. We hadn't slept, I was given a very strong dose of Ativan at the hospital and took the Xanor the doctor had prescribed and I was in this Zombie state with people coming in and out. Chad was helping my mother and one of the ladies who used to be the school office administrator to make coffee and tea and showing them were everything was in the kitchen. He did not grow up over night, he grew from the baby in the family to this helpful mature grown up little boy in a matter of minutes

No one went up to Chad to give him a hug or said sorry about your brother. It took me a few weeks before the reality of that hit me. He was just this invisible little boy trying to be brave amidst the tears and grief. I don't even think I saw him or spoke to him - he was just there. Clint's friend "M" came later than everyone else and he was the first person to acknowledge that Chad's brother had died and he told Chad how sorry he was. I think he clung to Chad for comfort. The only other person who acknowledged that Chad was "there" and needed comfort was a family friend. Not knowing how to comfort or deal with emotions he bought Chad a whole lot of toys, which afterwards when I started coming out of my Zombie like state, I really appreciated it. A few of the girls spent time with Chad when they came around in the afternoons after school, but none of them acknowledged to him that they were sorry that his brother died. Chad was always, Clint's little brother, but no one realised that he actually wasn't a little boy or the baby, he was old enough to know what death was and he grew up even faster in those few hours than he ever would have, had Clint not died.

Chad was angry for the rest of the week and lashed out at me all the time. We had to either leave him at home with our domestic worker or let him go to friends, because we had to run around sorting stuff out. There is no rolling up into a ball and dying when your child dies. It is non stop running up and down with red tape and legalities and "accident" reports. There is no time to even think of grieving. We tried to shield him from a lot of the ugliness, but in reality there is no way you can shield your child when death is so close to home and so very real. He also could not understand why he was being left at home without his parents and without his brother.

A women, actually the mother of the friend that Chad stayed at asked me if Chad was going to be a Pall Bearer, I was horrified at the thought. Then in between the absolute chaos, I thought about it and I was naming who I wanted to be Pall Bearers and giving my reasons why they should be and the importance and significance of their relationship to Clint and it dawned on me that Chad must have thought that I believed he was not important in Clint's life or even in our lives. The night before the funeral, I said to him that he was the most important person in Clint's life and I wanted to ask him something but I was too scared to and I wanted to ask him long before, but I was not sure if I should. I then asked, because we had chosen all the Pall Bearers, if he wanted to walk in front on the coffin, because he was THE most important person and his reply was "Yes, mommy, I would really love to"  Those exact words, in all his almost 10 years of age. We asked our Friend, D, who was also a Pall Bearer to just help Chad and we told Chad he would.

I wasn't really aware of what was going on at the Funeral, but I was told that Chad was absolutely amazing and so helpful the whole day. After the funeral, when everyone moves on with their lives, Mark went back to work and Chad was the one that had to care for me and not the other way round. He would phone Mark to come home, when my grief became unbearable, he screened my phone calls and just hovered at the edge of my very unstable mental state.



I was supposed to be the one protecting him and I couldn't. This tiny boy grew up and took on responsibilities that he should never have had to. He was so proud of his tie and his smart clothes on the day of the Funeral, that the enormity of what is was all about just washed over him, but when he saw me struggling to cope, the reality of everything we were going through was very real.

We try and protect our children by "hiding" the real world, but sometimes, that is even more scary for them than telling them the truth



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