Coping with the loss of your partner

Author Elke, of ‘When is my Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?’ talks about losing her husband (article)

June 10, 2017

Elke Thompson, formerly Elke Barber, author of “Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?” and “What Happened to Daddy’s Body?”

I was widowed, very suddenly, in April 2009, aged only 34. Martin, my husband, also 34, suffered a totally unexpected heart attack while away with our son Alex, then aged three. Martin had had no previous symptoms, no family history and was, for all we knew, a fit and healthy police officer. Alex somehow managed to get an ambulance to him while he was still alive, but sadly, Martin died at the scene inside the ambulance. This was only four days before our daughter Olivia’s first birthday. I never got to say goodbye.

When I looked for books to explain to my very young children what had happened, I found very little. I vowed to write my own. Originally self-published with the help of crowdfunding in 2012 and 2014 respectively, both books, “Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?” and “What Happened to Daddy’s Body?” were taken on by Jessica Kingsley Publishing in July 2016.

I have spoken at a number of Child Bereavement Conferences, and am always so happy to be given the opportunity to share our story and to help people understand just how different children grieve from adults. They say that child grief is like jumping in and out of puddles, whereas adult grief is more like wading through a muddy river… I certainly found this to be true.

Please close your eyes for a second and think about what picture pops into your head when I mention this word:
‘death’.

Chances are, it’s a pretty uncomfortable one, but crucially, it’s one that you understand! You immediately understand what death means, and everything that’s associated with it: loss, grief, pain, eternity…

Do you know what pops into a toddler’s head when he hears the word ‘death’? Absolutely nothing. Because he has never heard of it before! And changes are, he doesn’t even know that such a thing even exists….

Helping children on their journey of grieving is close to my heart. My children are now 8 and 11, and I have had to guide them through many grief puddles. As their understanding changes, their magical thinking stops, and they stop thinking that death is reversible, they grieve over and over again. And it is so important to be there for them, to listen, and to help them understand…

“Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute?” and “What Happened to Daddy’s Body?” are designed to gently guide you along that first step in a child’s grief journey.

Is Daddy Coming Back In a Minute?

This, our first book, explains the concept of death in words very young children can understand. It is based on the conversations I had with my three-year-old son Alex, written in his own words. It gives gentle, yet honest answers to all those difficult questions that followed after his father died so suddenly. Sometimes being honest meant saying ‘I don’t know’, and sometimes it meant going beyond what I might previously have thought of as ‘acceptable’. To my toddler there was no difference between asking “How does an aeroplane stay in the air?” and “What happened to Daddy’s body?” – he was simply looking for answers; he needed to understand. The worst thing had already happened; the worst thing I could lose now, was my children’s trust.

This book shows children that they are not alone, gives carers the confidence and words to help explain death, and reassures the reader that it is okay to be sad, but that it is okay to be happy, too.

Product details:

Hardback
32 pages + end papers
Full colour throughout
US Letter size
Language: English

What Happened to Daddy’s Body?

This, our second book, gently, sensitively and honestly explains cremation and burial, and we share what we did with Martin’s ashes – and the kids were very much involved in this.
Just as the first book, it is based on the actual conversations I had with my children, written in their own words. Once again, my children’s questions pushed my explanations beyond what I might previously have thought of as ‘acceptable’, but I was guided by their curiosity and merely tried to make sense of the muddles in their heads. They weren’t scared, but grateful to understand.
It further reassures the reader that it is okay to be sad, but that it is okay to be happy, too.

Product details:

Hardback
32 pages + end papers
Full colour throughout
US Letter size
Language: English

http://www.isdaddycomingbackinaminute.com/

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