What Happened to the Joneses?
We used to see the Joneses at the elementary school concerts, bake sales and family days. They were a family of five with three kids; Sara 6, Bobby 11 and Matt 16. Sometimes we used to see Mrs. Jones at the grocery store gathering supplies for the family. She always smiled when she said “hi” and was well liked by all who knew her. Mr. Jones was an accountant and worked downtown. He was most often seen early Saturday mornings taking one of his boys to hockey or washing the cars in the driveway during the summer. With three kids, a house and two cars, the Joneses were like many families. That was a year ago.
“They've dropped off the map”, “Couldn't get over Bobby's death”, “Never see them out anymore”, these are the common comments now said about the Joneses. When a family experiences a tragedy because of the death of a child or a parent, everything changes. In the Joneses case, their 11-year-old son Bobby died as the result of a heart condition. The last time most people saw them was at the funeral. Initially, the community showed an outpouring of support to the family by dropping off casseroles, baked goods and even offering the use of vacation homes. As time passed, so did the interaction with the outside world.
-Six Months Later-
Mrs. Jones stopped her volunteering in the community. She struggled in conversations with other ladies as they conversed about how their kids were growing; Bobby would always be eleven. She worried about Sara, her ordinarily bubbly and independent six-year-old. Sara became increasingly clingy and constantly followed Mrs. Jones from room to room at home. During a recent parent/teacher interview, Sara's teacher had expressed some concern because Sara lashed out occasionally. Matt, who was now seventeen, never spoke about losing his brother and always said he was “fine”. His grades were slipping and he had given up playing hockey. He was spending a great deal of time in his room. Mr. Jones returned to work shortly after Bobby's death…the bills still had to be paid. He stopped talking about Bobby at work…it seemed to make his coworkers uncomfortable when he did. He felt isolated; lunches alone became the norm. Being able to concentrate and find passion in his work was challenging. Thoughts of Bobby flooded him particularly on the drive home each day.
Mrs. Jones felt she needed help for her children so she contacted the funeral home, a call she never thought she could make, and asked if there was anywhere she could get help. She was referred to Bereaved Families of Ontario Hamilton/Burlington. Upon making that call, she was greeted by a friendly voice who said, “I can appreciate what you are going through Mrs. Jones, I too have lost a child. We have programs for your children, and for you and your husband too. I am so glad you called. We can help.”
-A Year After Bobby's Funeral…-
After her children started programs at Bereaved Families, Mrs. Jones attended a group support program for bereaved moms of younger children. There she met other moms who had lost their children and together they journeyed from a place of utter despair to hope. Mrs. Jones is currently waiting to start a training course in a few months to become a volunteer support group facilitator.
Sara attended the T.L.C. (Talk, Listen, Care) program where she met other bereaved children. All the children were encouraged to express their grief and talk about how their families had changed. The mental health professional who facilitated the program gave Mrs. Jones updates to Sara's progress. Sara was very expressive and was excited to attend each session. Mrs. Jones noticed that Sara was much happier and more open about her feelings.
Matt attended the Missing Pieces: The Grief Puzzle workshop that was offered by Bereaved Families in partnership with social workers from his high school. At the workshop, he met other students who were experiencing the same feelings he was. He admitted he was “not fine” and spoke about how he felt. He kept in touch with a few of the other teens he met and started to reconnect with one of his friends he lost touch with.
Mr. Jones elected not to attend the support group offered for bereaved fathers. He does on occasion attend the monthly program with Mrs. Jones. Through this program he has connected with another bereaved dad and they meet regularly for coffee.
-Keeping Up with the Joneses-
We found the Joneses… and are happy to report that they are doing well. They freely acknowledge they aren't the same Joneses that they were prior to Bobby's death; Bobby's death changed everything. But through their association with Bereaved Families of Ontario - Hamilton/Burlington the Joneses are honouring Bobby by reinvesting in their lives and their family’s future.
******Please Note: This is a fictional story and does not reflect any one family, it represents many families we have cared for since 1988. For real stories from our families please view our video.******