FC: Jackson Clark's Grief Journey of Losing his brother, Samuel Clark
1: Well, the playground represents me having fun with Sam while we had him. It also represents how I like to have fun with him. I like to have fun with him by reading magazines with him and playing little pieces with him. | It represents that I like to read magazines with him. I have a picture of me, him, and daddy. That means we love him very much.
2: Somebody sewed a blanket with all of his clothes. She sewed one of his bibs and it had Sam on it. I really liked that idea because Sam's name was a good name. | My counselor gave that to me because I was having a very hard time. I started going to counseling only about two months after he died. So it was still kind of hard. After a couple of weeks in counseling, she gave me a heart with an S on it. That represented my love for Sam.
3: Whenever Sam was alive, he might have never worn it, but he had a shirt, his was thing 2 and Sadie's was thing 1. The blanket has thing 1 and thing 2 sewn on to it. | I can't really make out what this says. It says if you think I am cute, you should see my twin. It represents Sadie and Sam because they were twins. Sam died three years ago. I thought that it was good idea because Sam and Sadie were twins. How does it feel having just Sadie here? Not very good. Even though she is his twin. It is still hard to have her and not have him.
4: This is a picture of their bibs. It might have been a shirt. It says I love my big brother. I love my big sister. So I thought that was a good idea because I know that Sadie loved me. I know Sam loved me. Sadie loved Hallie and Sam loved Hallie. | This is a picture of Sam, me holding Sam, me at counseling, a picture of my fish, picture of me, Hallie and Sam, and some of the things that I made at Camp Forget me Not. Can you talk about some of the feelings that you had? Sad feelings, mad feelings, afraid feelings, and that is it.
5: This is a picture of a squirrel that Ms. Edie gave to me because we always called him squirrel. A lot of the things that were of squirrels stood for him. | This is a picture of the badge with my name on it from Camp Forget me Not. CFMN was a good memory because I could have fun with people that knew how I felt about losing my brother.
6: This is a flyer of Sam's sprint. It was last year on Oct 17th. It was on a Sunday. Sam's Sprint was to make money for Charlie Daniel's Park so we can open a park for little kids like toddlers to play on and that is it.
7: What did you learn through the grief process? It is hard to have grief when you lose a sibling. Grief is a very hard thing for a person to experience. What would you tell other children who lost a brother or sister how to get through this process? I would tell them I know that it is hard, but you have to try to make it through life, I am not trying to say that in a bad way. I just trying to say that grief is hard. Some people can't get over and I can't either, but sometimes you have to. Would you tell them anything to help them get over it? I would tell them that sometimes you can do some activities like draw or do work or something like that and then sometimes those activities sometimes make you forget about the sadness and they give you happiness.
9: We knew that Sadie was a girl, but we didn't know what the other one was. We didn't know until the day that they were born that it was a boy. So when we found out that it was a boy. It was like Hallie has her sister, Jackson has his brother. It has always really bothered him when they wear the same clothes. It reminds him of everything he has lost. It is better now. I can do it occasionally. That was one of the things that just sent him into four or five days of intense grieving.
10: That one is a table with six chairs. Obviously, when Sam passed away they were still in high chairs, but for a long time we wouldn't move the high chair. We still keep six chairs. A lot of time at dinner, that is when they realize that the three of them are there and he is not. So a lot of times at dinner is when we will talk about it.
11: Whenever we changed Sadie's room, there was two different pictures of Sam and Sadie I had hanging in their room. Always kiss me goodnight plaque or something like that. When we came in the room, we kept those two pictures there where they were and in between it said, "Always in my heart." That has kind of been our thing as a family. When Jackson gets really upset and feels like he is so removed from Sam or as time goes by it seems like he is further away that is the thing that we always go to is that he is not here, but he will always be in our heart. A month or two after he passed, that is when we put that up in the room. That is always something we have always clung to.
12: That really isn't so much the actual baby doll as I wasn't sure how I could symbolize a boy. It was supposed to be a baby boy. I was looking for a boy blanket and couldn't find one so I just got a hospital blanket. When Sam first passed, it is something that has gotten better with time, but its kind of affected Jackson as much now as it has Hallie. Anytime they see baby boys it hits him really hard. Jackson would get really angry when he would see baby boys. He would say its not fair that they get theirs and we don't have ours.
13: Herby and I went out of the country. That picture was taken when Herby and I went out of the country about 2-3 summers ago. That picture sits in my bedroom. That is the first picture we took with the three of them. It always strikes me when I wake up and see how happy they are. Just that with Jackson, he was smiling. He was smiling again. He was happy and had his arms around the girls. Every time I look at that picture. It was really hard to have that picture made for me, but then at that time he had been going to counseling for a while. That was right before camp. I remember thinking he has turned a corner. He is happy again. He is smiling. I think he was depressed, which he doesn't express it the same way adults do. For a child, he was having a hard time. That picture always, he is just full of joy. We were just really glad that he was happy.
14: As you know that was one of the things that he really struggled with was anxiety. One of the things that I felt like really trickled down. Then, they were so young that it was hard for them to, really for me to verbalize like this makes me anxious because.... I think a lot was just his personality. He is a lot like me (high strung, edgy, extremely deep thinker). I think a lot of it is his personality, but then obviously other life situations tend to play into it. We will continue to add to it. We are really trying to work through that. We are having a lot of anxiety about things. We are trying to talk about it and not let it fester and build. I think it was right after the first anniversary. Until then, Herby and I were so focused on our own grief that we didn't realize how
15: deep into his grief he was into his own grief he was. Even though, We would try to talk about it, but we were just trying to get through the day. I think then we realized that even though he is four. He obviously doesn't think like a four year old. He"s got a lot and he's dealing with a lot. It has effected him and everything. I think with the counseling and I think once we just acknowledged his grief was really a turning point for him. He realized we wanted to help him deal with his grief. It was not about me and Herby, it was about dealing with his pain. I remember thinking I have already lost one child, I can't lose another one. If he doesn't deal with this, it will manifest. My grandmother killed herself after my mother passed away. I have seen that. I have seen that stuffing and not dealing with emotions. I remember that fear. We have got to deal with this. In the hospital they give you resources and support. I thought we were doing okay with this. I had my emotions and were very free with them, but not too free. I had read everything. I had done everything. I thought we were doing everything that we were supposed to be doing at this time, but I just realized that he had a lot of needs that were going unmet at that time. I really feel like having somebody out of the family that was unbiased. Not only that, but seeing other kids that were also dealing with pain. It was really just a turning point for him.
16: Camp was the greatest thing ever. That was right before Sam and Sadie's second birthday. It was just wonderful. Just being around other kids and having a social environment to talk about things. Even though, I know it was so heavy in the things that they were all doing there. Afterwards, we went to Gatlinburg. We left at the end of the camp, we went to Gatlinburg. He just seemed so free. I think it was a big first for him. It's not fair. I am the only one. I am the only one of my friends who has lot a brother. I don't know anyone else whose family member has died. In support groups and at camp is where you may keep friendships. He realized there were other kids whose brothers had died.
17: The first Halloween, the first year anniversary wasn't as hard for Jackson because I think he was so young. He was so caught up in it. I know he realized it, but he was four no five. Even still, its Halloween, kids are supposed to be excited and running around. The second Halloween was last year, about two weeks before Halloween he came to me and said I don't want to dress up and I don't want to go Trick or Treating. | I said that is fine because I don't either. If you decide not to go, we will stay home. If you change your mind, we will go, but that is totally up to you. Halloween rolled around, he did decide to go trick or treating,. I thought that was huge for him. Knowing the grieving process, being able to think about it, and being able to sort out those feelings. I realized how far he had come at that point. How comfortable he was and how he had matured. Not just for the celebration and everything that goes along with it. And that day came. He was even thinking about it. The anticipation and the dread is so much worse than the actual day. The anxiety is so much worse than the actual day. Most of the time, we know in our mind that we shouldn't worry about so much in advance. For him, it was so good to not only realize that emotion, but to share it with me and Herby.
18: Jackson, All of three of my kids love music. Most of kids don't even know half the words to a song. Jackson was very tuned in to the story behind the song and the lyrics and how they affect him. There is a song by Nick Lachey who is not somebody that we would let Jackson listen to. Jackson very in touch with music. The meaning and the words behind it. Nick Lachey song, "Ordinary Day". If I had one more ordinary day with you, I would. This is when his grief manifests the most vs. falling out crying. He feels this way the most when he listens to music. Music is his outlet. | In this moment, this is currently what he is dealing with. He is having a hard time sleeping. He has a hard time staying asleep. He wakes up in a panic. Every night, we get frustrated with him not sleeping. It has become a habit. As parents, it is a balance. He is afraid that he isn't going to wake up. He has always hated sleeping upstairs.
19: We wanted to make it a family event. The kids are very excited about it. We are trying to include them in the process. and that will continue to be a healing things as it grows year after year. We wanted to create positive ways to remember him. It is still very hard and very crappy situation. We still have so much to live for. We have always wanted to do something for Sam. We wanted to find causes that were really significant in our healing.
20: Final Thoughts He is a pretty well adjusted kid. If they didn’t know him, they wouldn’t know what he has gone through. I feel like his pain is underneath the surface. The pain may come on pretty intense, but goes away pretty quickly. They grow up really fast. I feel like his innocence has been taken away. Jackson was baptized in March. Heaven is very real. He really understands what it means to be a Christian. He feels like he has a foot in the door because Sam is there.
22: The picture for me was what we used at the funeral. That symbolized obviously from his standpoint the start of the process and of this part of the journey. What does it mean to me? I am not sure I can put this into words other than for all of us for Jackson especially. It was such a confusing time. What doesn't it mean to me? How could I help him start that process with all that I was feeling and the burden that I was trying to carry. | Jackson especially felt a lot of anger. I think a lot of it was his age, but just not understanding. He felt like he wanted to know why that had to happen. What does it mean to me? I felt anger because I could not answer it for him. I couldn't give him the answers as a dad I felt like under normal circumstances I could answer a lot of those questions.
23: I think back to when I was doing this. I tried to put some thought in to this. You almost always know that in grief you are going to start in tears. That is what that picture is. Tears. His tears. Our tears. Crying for Sam. Our tears crying for him. I know this is a lot about his feelings, but just from my perspective. I remember feeling like I didn't start grieving because I felt like I need to take care of him, Tatum, and the girls too, but them being as small as they were it was going to be a while before they could soak up what was going on. I don't think I did a lot of crying in the beginning. What does the picture mean to me? All of that stuff in a nutshell. When I took the camera I try to look for things that triggered what I remember happening obviously. We went out of the tears into the anger.
24: To me, it was just a look of confusion. Like just a look of I don't know how to react because of all the sadness, the anger, and the grief. We did a lot of talking with you, we did grief share on our own for us. There all these different phases of grief, but yet some of them come back. some of the anger comes in at different times. That is what I was going for there. | This one to me was as close to grief that I could find in a picture. It was the expression of grief on the face. Just the anguish and pain that goes along with that. When I was searching for some things that was one of the images that I found. I guess it struck a chord with me because I felt like in his own way, obviously he was going through the grief. He was feeling a lot of the same things that we were feeling only on a younger child's level.
25: The TV like I mentioned before. It's got all of our games console. The Wii, video games, and everything is always in one place. We always tell ourselves he watches too much tv, but I think especially back then it was almost a hiding place, a place where he could go and be distracted not having to feel some of those feelings when he didn't want to feel them. Truthfully, I can relate to that because I felt a lot of the same way myself. I don't know if that is a man thing, a child thing, or a person thing. I think Tatum allowed herself to feel it more often than we did and at least express it.
26: This one, I tried to stay on task to keep this more on him and not me, but this one to me signified loneliness. As hard as we tried to be there for him and give him whatever he needed. I know there was still a lot of loneliness for him. You spend so much time inside of grief trying to process everything that you don't always talk about everything. | This one, you obviously know the jar from where we did counseling with you. Some of the ironic things to me was a lot of these pictures that I took, the anger, the grief, the fear, the so on and so forth. Those stones are in there. So it was almost kind of fitting when I was doing this that the jar has these emotions in it.
27: The mask from Camp Forget Me Not. I felt like some of the cycle of the grief was starting to get better because he had learned some tools on how to talk and express himself. He was getting older and getting a little more mature. One of things that I felt like was huge benefit for him was being in a place around other kids having that shared experience even though there losses may have been different, but just having that shared experience. I felt like he found some comfort in knowing he wasn't the only one going through this. | It is just a person holding their face. It signified to me not that the grief is ever over, but just that how tired you feel from feeling so much. Sometimes, I felt that he was just exhausted. You got to know him pretty well. He is a pretty sharp kid, but trying to figure things out and carrying those burdens. I know one session he talked about protecting us and that just weighs on you. So just a sense of exhaustion.
28: We called Sam squirrel boy. The squirrel in general represents him, but when I think about where we started and all that's in between. That is why I put that last. Some ways grief is a cycle, but it doesn't really stop. You learn how to deal with it better, but it never really goes away.
29: Dear Clark Family, It has been an honor and a blessing that you have allowed me to be part of your grief journey and the process towards healing. Thank you for your contribution to this study and to sibling bereavement research. Edith "Edie" Crumb