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Michael and Billy's Story

This is a post about Michael and Billy's reaction and how they have coped with the death of their sibling Joey.

by Lisa Sculley
mother of
Billy 10/14/87
Michael 7/7/89
Joey 7/16/92 to 10/7/92
remembering Dad 5/13/40 to 5/19/96

reprinted with permission

My Billy is a very active, but sweet natured boy of nine now. I often wonder
what kind of an impact this will have on both of my boys. My other little
boy (well not so little!) is seven now. So far, it has turned them into
compassionate, loving and sensitive children.

Right after it happened, they really had no reaction. Almost as if it numbed
them too. Michael hugged me when I found a sock and told me that it would be
all right, cause Joey is in heaven, and he is happy. Of course, that
triggered even more tears! But as the first months passed, both of them
especially Billy, began acting out in anger. They caused trouble in class,
and had to be picked up from school for misbehaviour frequently. I was too
deep in work to really notice how bad things were. About a month and a half
afterward, right before Thanksgiving, I was working (again!). My husband was
keeping the kids and fell asleep on the couch. He awoke not too long after
that to find the kids angrily throwing paintballs all over our bedroom. That
was the room Joey died in. The room was completely ruined. Then the next
week, the school tried to throw them out. This was a private Christian
school, and you would expect them to reach out and try and help us. Instead
they attacked us. We managed to keep the kids in, and immediately arranged
for counseling.

The counseling was for the kids only, but I think it helped Mommy and Daddy
more than it did the kids. The counselor spent time with them, observing and
talking with them and found they were reacting in a completely normal way.
My kids were fine! It turned out to be the school after all. I think they
probably thought that one of us would die if they went to school, since that
is when Joey died. Anyway, it acted as a wake up call to us too. I realized
that I couldn't hide from my grief, and I had to be there for my family. But
it did one more thing; it reassured us that our children were normal, and
that we hadn't totally blown it with them. That helped so much to hear,
after being told how bad we were at controlling our children. A month or two
after that, we removed our children from the school, when we could be sure
they would not think it was punishment.

Now, I am definitely not against Churches or private schools. My kids still
go to a Christian private school, because our school system here pretty much
stinks. But I really expected the school to be able to help. They were an
outside, objective party, used to dealing with children. But they didn't. I
have had much more success at the Church I attend now, and at the school they
now go to. They all know about Joey, and don't seem to have a problem
dealing with the subject. And they were absolutely wonderful when my Dad
died suddenly. So I guess it just goes to show you that it depends on the
people within an organization, not on the type of organization.

Well, I rambled here. I originally just wanted to comment on how it affects
children as they grow older. I have two reasonably well adjusted, and
wonderfully loving little boys. I think, if anything, it has made them
stronger and more caring. I recently took them to a SIDS State Conference.
They sat alongside mothers and fathers. Parents came up to me commenting on
how sensitive and caring they were. They actually held these people's hands,
and just let them cry! Crying doesn't scare them. In all other ways, I
think they will grow up to be the typical macho men (yuck to housecleaning,
etc!), but I am glad they have learned to accept others feelings, and to show
their feelings to others. I just wish they could have learned this in a
different way.

4/30/97

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