Monday, December 03, 2007

Be Not Afraid: A Prayer Request

This week the "Catholic Carnival" (#148) is hosted at Bryan Murdaugh's blog (thanks Bryan). If you have a moment, stop by and have a look! Here's the link.

Yesterday Sarah came down with her doll baby, holding her in the "feeding" position and kissing her tenderly. "Aren't I a good Mommy?" she asked me. I smiled and assured her that she would make a wonderful mother someday.

Then she casually walked over to the stash of paper grocery bags, pulled one down and opened it, then gently lowered her baby into it. "There! Now she's in the dead box." (Have I mentioned we attended my grandmother's funeral over Thanksgiving week?)

So perhaps it isn't all that surprising that Sarah refuses to let me out of her sight, even to go to church, without breaking down into a torrent of sobbing. She will not stay in her bed, and only reluctantly agreed to a spot on the floor.

I'm afraid I've scarred my daughter. And I'm not sure what to do about it.

In his new encyclical, the Holy Father writes about the hope that is the lifeblood of all Christians:

Heaven is not empty. Life is not a simple product of laws and randomness of matter, but within everything and at the same time above everything, there is a personal will, there is a Spirit who in Jesus has revealed himsef as Love .... The true shepherd is one who knows even the path that passes through the valley of death; one who walks with me even on the path of final solitude, where no one can accompany me, guiding me through: he himself has walked this path, he has descended into the kingdom of death, he has conquered death, and he has returned to accompany us now and to give us the certainty that, together with him, we can find a way through.

Spe Salvi (5-6)

I'm sure the preoccupation with death is temporary; Sarah knows all about heaven, and talks eagerly about going there so she can play with Missy again. And yet, there also seems to be an untapped well of fear and anger in Sarah that is just now beginning to break to the surface. These strong emotions are compounded by the fact that she isn't sleeping well because she keeps checking to be sure we're still there. If I wrap her up like a burrito and hold her on my lap, she'll nap ... but it doesn't last long.

My best guess is that it's an attachment issue, based on the books I've read. And so there will be some work ahead of us. Please say a prayer, if you think of it, that little Sarah will learn to "Be Not Afraid."


darcee said...

Children's understanding of death is so interesting. Recently my son(4) told me that he was going to be a Saint so he could help me to heaven when I die... Lord knows I need his help! :)

Heidi Hess Saxton said...

When dealing with children who have experienced profound loss (my children lost their birth families when Christopher was 2-1/2 and Sarah was 6 months), their subsequent experiences of loss are mingled with the original.

When our dog died last year (Dec 8), Christopher was inconsolable. "This is worse than when I lost my birth family!" he sobbed. I understood what he meant: Missy had been a constant source of love and friendship, and losing her was devastating.

Sarah was so young when she was taken from her birth mother, and yet that time (6 months) is so crucial to a child's development and her ability to trust in future relationships. I have no doubt that part of what we are dealing with has to do with this. Thanks for your prayers

Kate Wicker said...

Heidi, Sarah (and you!) are in my prayers. God bless.

Sarah Reinhard said...

I'm adding you all to my daily intentions, Heidi. Perhaps it's a phase and she's learning through her playing, but even so, that doesn't make it easy for you, and may