Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Grieving Joey Essex style

When it comes to grief advice, and specifically for help in handling the loss my son feels for his mother, I’ll take information onboard from anywhere.

Such is my will and desire to aid my son in anyway possible to help him deal with losing his mum I am happy to listen, and take note of how absolutely anyone else has dealt with the abrupt loss of a parent.

Ideas and prompts can come form all sorts of places, and I am yet to be surprised as to where I can glean things from, or be inspired into a direction that works for us.

But even still, I never thought TOWIE, a ‘constructed reality’ TV series featuring the glitterati of Essex bickering over great matters of inconsequence, would be something I would get anything other than a few giggles.

It’s the kind of show I may indulge in before bed, especially to help settle my mood if I’d watched something particularly scary, like Question Time say.

Anyway, in the run up to, and just after Mother’s Day, I noted that the show had come in for some stinging criticism, that found ITV2 accused of exploiting two of its characters who themselves had lost their mother.

Siblings Joey and Frankie Essex were followed by the reality show's cameras as they went through their Mother’s Day tributes.

As exploitive as that may have been, it certainly gave me an insight into how my boy may feel as he grows, and what works – and doesn’t work – for other people.

For Frankie, she chose to recognise her mother on Mother’s Day by inviting her closest family (and an ITV2 camera crew) around to her home.  She then lit a flying lantern at dusk and set if off on its way, ‘to join the stars’.

The site of a single lantern heading skywards I thought was a lovely image and gesture, and immediately thought that it could be one that my boy may choose to follow in the coming years.

It got me thinking it would be great for him to make his own lantern, or even just buy and decorate one with whatever he fancied.

When his mother passed away I named a star in her memory, and I think for Max it would be very fitting to be reminded of her star in this way.  Sending a bright lantern into the sky to meet or become his mum’s star seems like a good fit for a child that is learning about his grief as he matures.

I’m still not convinced that this needs to be on a given day, or a time of year, to me I think he should be free to recognise his mother any moment he sees fit, and in any way appropriate.

There’s a danger in my mind that significant dates can become more difficult if you have a ritual you've followed previously.  Any sort of deviation can feel like sacrilege, as can doing the same thing time and again feel a little processional and eventually soulless.  Risking making significant dates sad and uninspiring, rather than uplifting and poignant.

Still, everyone is different, and I appreciate that Max may well grow to be very different to me. I’ll always understand and support whatever he thinks is best, and for him it could be totally appropriate to confine things done in honour of his mother to her birthday, Mother’s Day or even the anniversary of her death.

But, in any case, I’m planning on putting a few flying lanterns into stock for impromptu or part-scripted release.

And the Chinese lantern trade has TOWIE to thank for that.