It was my wise husband who adamantly said it. Because I trust that he pretty much always knows best and he had authority on the subject, we decided to keep life as normal as possible for our kids during my 10 month journey through diagnosis and treatment. At the age of nine, Blake lived through the suffering and loss of his dad, Harry to stage 4 Melanoma. We joke that he is often emotion-less. I know it is there, but he is just not one to express it easily. So when he expressed emotion about our kids being spared our emotion about what could and was happening, I determinedly surrendered to the plan. Throughout the day, we would wear a smile and carry on with life as it was previously programmed. At night, we’d fall into bed, pour out our concerns to one another and God and figure out who would wear a painted smile for us and take our kids to wherever they needed to be the next day. It may sound fake but our kids were 3 y.o. and 1.5 y.o. at the time. We hadn’t really talked about death much yet and what they really needed to be thinking about was how long til their next snack, what toy they would play with that day, or what friend they might get to see.
The decisions about how to handle cancer/illness/death with kids is a personal one and depends a lot on their ages. I am certainly not an authority on it. However, I am confident that kids find security in routine. My mom and my friends were our greatest help when it came to maintaining routine. My mom would make sure our son always made it to preschool on his scheduled days. For the rest of the days that my husband was working, there was a calendar on which my friends had signed up to come help me care for my kids. They often became play dates with my friends’ kids (as long as everyone was healthy) which was a great distraction.
You may be in the midst of your own mom-ing and chuckle at the thought of any art being created in your home right now. Understand that nurturing your kids is one of the greatest masterpieces we can ever create. If your warrior friend has young kids she is going to struggle to find the energy for her own mom art. Perhaps you have a little in reserves to offer that will help maintain routine for her kids and keep the art going.