kidstrokemotion poses the question ‘How do children feel when their dad or mum has a stroke?’ We are deeply honoured to share the answer from Patrick, a 12 year old Australian boy, who was alone with his mum when she had a stroke.
‘When I found mum I was VERY, VERY scared and confused. When mum was in hospital it felt kind of strange knowing that she wasn’t here. It felt scary I guess. When she came out of hospital I was very relieved. Happy that mum wasn’t dead. I didn’t think mum was the kind of person who would have a stroke.
It affected me in school the first year. I was very focused on what had happened to mum. I just wasn’t focusing in class because I was thinking about mum. When I got my grades back I was angry at myself.
When mum had no energy, it definitely limited me to what I could do. I couldn’t really go out to play with my friends. I guess I just stayed in the house; played on my iPad, read books and played by myself.
Mum spends a lot more time with me now. I think we’re spending a lot more time together as a family.’
‘I didn’t realise it until a few months ago, but when I draw things, I usually draw some cartoon faces and they usually depict how I’m feeling. I started drawing them during mum’s stroke. Usually I’ve got the same rough face, which is quite happy. But then it’s like the sad one and confused because I don’t know what to do. I think that drawing faces definitely showed me how I felt and if I was angry, I needed to calm down.’
Patrick’s advice to other children:
‘Don’t worry. It’s not going to last forever. If mum’s getting a bit snappy at you and you feel like you haven’t done anything wrong, don’t worry; it’s normal for them. Now mum’s stroke has gone. It doesn’t matter any more.’
His mum says,
‘Hello to anyone who reads this as I urge you all to get involved. Patrick, my then 11 year old son, almost 18 months ago now, found me on the floor after I suffered a stroke. We spoke about it often afterwards and as my recovery got much better with time, we talked about it less. It was not until Karen asked for drawings that I discussed it again with him. I had no idea Patrick had been drawing faces to depict how he felt about my stroke. Last weekend we conducted the interview and he did the drawings. We both learned a lot during that time and it was therapeutic for us both, in addition to knowing that we could help other kids in a similar position to Patrick. It may be hard to do, but please try and support this as you may also be surprised what you can get out of the experience. Thanks. Shelagh’
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