This moving piece can be found on Arnold and Amy Mindell’s website, and demonstrates how carefully following a child’s signals after the tragic loss of his mother, helped to move a cycling process move on, leading to the child moving from an experience of helplessness to experiencing his strength.
Perhaps the example of a child who witnessed the death of his mother in an avalanche in the French Alps will be of help. Several weeks after the tragic accident, the young child continuously stuttered “Oh Mama, Mama,” looking up towards the sky. He was not catatonic, but was apparently in some form of shock. The father did not know what to do. We asked the child to say “Mama” and look up. “Tell us what you see.”
The little boy said he saw a “white wall coming down”. Apparently he meant the dreaded avalanche. While the father shouted no! to the “white wall” from the corner of our office, the child just continued to stare upwards towards the ceiling. As we began gently acting like the “white wall,” the child began to put up his own hand ever so slightly in the beginning of a “stop”-like gesture. While slowly moving towards him as “the white wall”, we encouraged him to put his hand up more forcefully. Suddenly we were involved in a “pushing” struggle. He was pushing up against the wall as we, playing the wall, pushed against him.
A few minutes later he was smiling. Now he said, “I am “strong” like the avalanche”. Apparently such signs of strength were very new for him. In any case, for the first time, the child seemed happier and was no longer repeatedly crying for his mama.