A little boy, let’s call him Toby, was very sad and confused because his grandad, who he loved and adored spending time with had sadly passed away. The little boy had never encountered death before as he was only 3 years old and his family didn’t know how to explain to him that his Grandad was not coming back.
To be kind, keep it simple and make it easy for him to think about his Mum and Dad told him that Grandad had been sick and now he had gone to live in a beautiful star where he would be able to see the little Toby from the sky.
Of course this little story was told out of the most loving place by his parents but little Toby was devastated at losing his Grandad that he loved so much. He couldn’t process the information and so held on to his grief for many months with the emotions of sadness and fear beginning to escalate and affect not only him but his family too.
Toby became distraught if Mum, Dad, Grandma or anyone else in the family left the room or especially the house as he was frightened that they wouldn’t come back, just like his Grandad didn’t come back. He didn’t want to go to bed in case his family weren’t there when he woke up. He would be playing with toys and suddenly become inconsolable and sobbing as he remembered his Grandad was not there anymore.
When this had gone on for months and was now becoming a way of getting his own way his Grandma asked if I would help. I spent an afternoon with this gorgeous, intelligent and very logical young man. Toby told me he was sad because his Grandad was not there. He told be Grandad was all in the dark in the sky as a star and he didn’t like that he was alone in the dark. So we spent time chatting as we played with Lego and Twister and talked about collecting all of the happiness (blue blocks) and choosing to hold on to those, and getting rid of the sadness (red blocks) as we could choose to do that too. We chatted about going to Grandad in a rocket ship and turning on a light for him. And we kept on playing. We had fun with metaphors on the Twister mat and experimented with Goodbye doesn’t mean that person will not come back.
At the end of the afternoon I said my goodbyes and left, sending Dad an email with some extra things to keep doing with Toby.
A few weeks later I got this lovely message from Grandma…
“Cannot thank TeeJay enough for the help she has given to my 3 year old grandchild following the loss of his beloved grandad. He was really struggling to cope with seeing people he was close to and broke his heart when they then had to leave his house. In just one half-day session TeeJay was able to help him understand that when people say goodbye it does not mean that he will never see them again. He is now back to the happy child he previously was and knows that we will be there in his life even though we are not always with him. Cannot recommend TeeJay enough. Many thanks TeeJay in turning a little boys life around in such a compassionate and professional way.”
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