The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network estimates that in Ireland bereavement affects between 36,000 and 60,000 school children. Yet how many teachers or other professionals have the confidence to really talk to children about death and loss. Sometimes all that may be required is to listen or to give children a medium to express their feelings.
Here is a beautiful extract from ‘I’m Fine’ by A Wootten student of the Cork Life Centre outlining her experience around losing a parent.
I love you with all my heart.
I am 19 now and Victor is 17.
I wish you were here to see what a fine young man he has become.
I wish you were here to guide him.
I wish he could have you as a role-model and a confidant.
I am really worried about him. I am scared that I am going to lose him and mum like we lost you. I am scared that Victor might get depression, like me. That he might experience the pain that I do on a daily basis. I don’t want that for him. I love him and want so badly to protect him from it. He needs guidance and support. He needs a fathers love and input. He was 7 when he lost you!!!!! I have no doubt that he is hurting and that he misses you but he won’t talk to us!
Mum needs someone too. I can see she is hurting. I have always been able to see that. She loves you, she always has. She misses you. I am so so scared of losing her. I just want to protect mum and Victor. Seeing her in pain kills me. I wish there was something I could do. I wish I could make it all go away. I wish she could sleep. I want to give her the world. I would love to make her dream of riding a horse on a beach come true, but I have probably left it too late.
As for me…
I miss you.
I feel like I have forgotten you and I hate myself for that. I swore that I would never forget you. I promised I would take care of mum and Victor. I have failed. I am sorry.
What I would give to see you one last time, to talk to you again, to hug you and tell you that I love you…
What would you make of me now…?
Would you accept that I am only attracted to women?
Would you still love me if I wasn’t your “daughter”?
Would you be there for me when a girl breaks my heart?
Would you hate me for the marks on my body, my scars and tattoos?
Would you look at me with pride or disgust?
I’ll never know.
I’ll never get to introduce a girlfriend to you or to have you there if I get married.
I will never see you play with your grandchildren or hear you laugh.
There are so many things I will never know…
So many stories I’ll never hear…
As much as this all hurts me I hope that you are free of pain now.
I love you and I want to believe that you are proud of us, of your family.
Mr. Fix It
Cross legged with your twin,
Your earthy eyes shining with pride
Your understudy dutifully mimics
each action; his hero,
Sitting in a dusky dusty room,
Your hands covering his as the sander
Glides across the worn wooden floor
Lighting up his eyes with joy and fascination.
Outside, building a wall,
The determined grunt of the plastic hardhatted
3 year old version of you, Mr fix it Jnr,
Sitting in the sun, passing you brick after brick,
Tapping the brick to flatten it,
The only men in my life,
Hard at work in the yard.
The tears flowing from those same earthy eyes,
Mr fix it Jnr has lost his teacher.
7 years old and no longer a twin.
Left with only memories and pictures
of the man he aspires to be.