Losing a parent: Isaiah’s Story

March 1, 2020

Seven year old Isaiah had not been allowed to see his father for a very long time because Dad had a substance abuse problem and needed help. Isaiah finally got to visit his father and soon after was allowed to spend the night at his Dad’s house.

When Isaiah woke up the next morning, his father had died during the night. The Isaiah tried unsuccessfully for some time to awaken his Dad. He finally went to a neighbor’s house, and they called the police, who in turn called a ChildSaversImmediate Response clinician to help Isaiah through this terrible experience.

Losing a parent is never easy; for the next 6 months, the clinician worked with Isaiah, helping him through the trauma and the grief process. They blew bubbles together to help him be less anxious. Isaiah drew pictures of him trying to wake up his father, and he made a memory box of all the things he wanted to always remember about his father.

The clinician also worked with Isaiah’s mother on how she could help Isaiah feel safe again and say goodbye to his father. Toward the end of his treatment, Isaiah came to a session very excited and drew a very special picture. He explained to the therapist that, with his mother’s help, he had written a note that said “I love you Daddy” and put it inside a balloon, which had then been filled with helium. His mother had then taken him to the graveyard, where he had released the balloon so that it would go up to his father, who is in heaven. The child expressed how he felt so much better after having done this because, in his own words, “Now my Daddy knows I love him.”