No One Talked About It

“NO!” I screamed, as my sister cried to me on the phone. Her 38-year-old son, dead. Our family devastated. His two young children, ages two and six, left without their dad. 

Three generations of children in my family have suffered because of the untimely death of a family member. My father at age six, watched as his four-year-old brother got hit by a bus.

My mother, at eight years old, was comforted by her 13-year-old sister at their father's funeral. He died at age 36, from tuberculosis. Her own mother was in the hospital with health problems, unable to attend the funeral.   

Young children left alone in the silence. Adults not knowing what to do. Disrupted families, separated from each other. My parents as children, became responsible before their time, working as child labor just to survive.

My paternal grandmother, unable to cope with the death of her child, ended up institutionalized for the rest of her life, with a mental disturbance. 

No One Talked About It

I grew up hearing about the death of my brother, Richard. My parents' first born and only son, dead at age seven from pneumonia. I knew him only by the stories of what a beautiful, brown-eyed, curly-haired angel he was. They called him a “vegetable” in those days. He couldn't walk, talk or see. 

No One Talked About It

One sister, an infant at the time of his death, has no memory of Richard. Another sister Barbara, remembers watching two large, somber men in black suits, take Richard out in a dark, small, body bag. “I remember Mommy and Daddy sitting on the kitchen radiator cover, both crying. I was maybe three years old. I remember thinking, 'Where are you going with my favorite toy?' I did not understand what was going on. No one explained anything to me and I felt totally alone. I asked myself why are they taking my "toy" away, my favorite toy? Because Richard was confined to a crib and he couldn't move or do much, I played with him in the crib as if he were my personal toy. His crib was in the dining room and that's where we played. I remember him as being a beautiful boy with dark hair and big eyes, and I still feel love for him.”

My oldest sister, age five at the time, somehow managed to put her arm through the glass of the French door on the day of Richard’s funeral. She still has the scar on her arm.

No One Talked About It

The deaths of aunts and uncles, then my father. We grieve silently, separately. We talk at the funeral, the usual stuff...some memories, funny stories, and we comfort my mom.  

We Need To Talk About It

I wanted to break the family legacy of silence that had gone on for generations. It was time to do something to help children cope with heartbreak.

Since I was a kid, I have always been in tune with how someone is feeling, knowing things without really understanding how. Empaths, we're called. I felt what wasn't talked about. (For more clarity on empaths click here: 30 Traits of an empath By: Christel Broederlow

Being an empath has served me well. It fostered warmth, compassion and understanding. Coupled with my love of learning, it led me down paths of education in many fields - spiritual, psychological and the arts and sciences.  

I discovered that education or what one knows, can never prepare one for grief. When you experience the death of a loved one, or even the loss of a love relationship, or the death of a beloved pet - the depth of feelings, the myriad thoughts - can knock down the strongest of us.

Melodee Roo and The Wantoks Too! Letters For Grieving Children Like You was born out of my desire to heal the pain held by generation after generation in my family. My own family needed help and I also wanted to help other children heal from heartache.

Talking is my business. As a psychotherapist and marriage and family therapist for 40 years, helping others is my mission. But, I was limited to how many families I could help face-to-face. I thought it was important to help a family cope, after the stress of the funeral and when other mourners faded back into their own lives. Grief seems insurmountable in the beginning and I wanted to make it somehow more manageable for children and their families. Reaching out to others online was a logical, if not daunting task. 

Writing these letters helped me to get through my own grief, giving me a purpose and direction. There were times that I wanted to give up. Times when the task of getting through was too tough or overwhelming. My family and I talked about it. We talked about Chris and his decision to take his own life. We talked about all the confusion, shock, guilt, anger, sorrow, pain. The longing to understand what could never be understood, the wish to have it be different. We felt the powerlessness that accompanied our tragic loss. We had to find forgiveness for ourselves and Chris. We honored his life in different ways. His children received help from a grief program in Connecticut. Chris's death helped us to break the family legacy of silence. Through his death, Chris became the inspiration to help many others, creating our new legacy -  spreading the truth of the healing power of love.

The following touching, heartfelt poems were written by Christopher's mother, Barbara, in the difficult days following his death. 

“Anguish consumed me as I watched Dominic, six, and Lila, two, continue each day without their father. I tried to imagine and express their thoughts of confusion and disbelief that they would never hug, kiss, talk to, or play with their Dad again. I hope I have spoken their truth.” 

With all my love, Nana.

Hi, My Daddy

Dear Daddy, my Daddy, I don't understand,

You left me so quickly, I needed your hand.

I waited and waited and called out your name,

I thought you were playing, just playing a game.

I wanted to play, play " throw me the ball",

So I ran really fast, I ran down the hall.

I asked my sad Mommy, "Is Daddy sleeping in bed",

She said, "no Baby, no Baby" while kissing my head.

Dear Daddy, my Daddy, I don't understand,

You left me so quickly, I don't understand.

Friends and family came over, I still felt alone,

Then Mommy said, "Lila, Daddy's not coming home".

But where could you be, you were here all the time,

Cause you are my Daddy, and my Daddy is mine.

If I only knew of your heartache and pain,

I'd have hugged you and hugged you and hugged you again.

See, I'm just so little and need you so much,

I hope I remember your kiss and your touch.

Dear Daddy, my Daddy, I don't understand,

You left me so quickly, I still need your hand.


My Dad

I remember being little, when you held me oh so tight,

My Reflux would disturb me, and I'd cry out every night.

You wrapped me and you swayed me in your strong, comforting grip,

And as I grew you understood me, in our precious relationship.

We were best friends, you so gentle, I never knew fear,

'Cause whenever I needed you, my Dad was always there.

I remember what you taught me, to be good and to be kind,

I'll remember what you taught me, your words forever in my mind.

I just thought you'd always be here, forever-maybe longer,

I try my best to be braver, and for Mommy, to be stronger.

I watch over her daily, as her tears flow and flow,

We need you back my Daddy, more than you know.

I need you still to kiss me and to feel your gentle touch,

I'm still just so little and I need you so very much.

There's so much left to teach me or just to watch me grow,

Time passes very quickly and so much I still don't know.

You were the best,the best Daddy of all,

I know that for sure, even though I'm quite small.

Dads are forever, forever in time,

I miss you so Daddy, sweet Daddy of mine.

We talked and we played for hours and hours,

I wish I could have given you some "Sky-Lander" powers.

The short time we had you was filled with such love,

Watch over us Daddy from God's Heaven above.

Sweet Daddy-I'm like you, I'm suffering too,

Please speak to me softly, I'll listen for you.

So rest my Dearest Dad up in Heaven so far,

You were a light in my life, a bright shining star.  

All my love, Dominic 

Sharon Diaz LPC, LADC: Helping People. Changing Lives. Sharon is an author, a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor and Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in Shelton, Connecticut.