Did you know that Vincent van Gogh, the world renowned artist, was born exactly one year, to the day, after the first baby Vincent Willem was stillborn to Anna Carbentus and Theodorus van Gogh on March 30, 1852?
Many papers has been written to analogue his later behaviour with this birth coincidence. Was he merely a substitute for the loss his parents endured? Was her post-natal depression handed over? Given the fact that his father and grandfather were both clergies one can also reason that the parents would take Vincent Willem born on March 30, 1853, as a gift from heaven. (Vincent later pursued the calling himself, but failed miserably.)
Whatever the case might be, Vincent later suffered from bipolar disorder and was institutionalized.
My reasoning for this lengthy introduction is simple. Parents are often unaware of children’s need to be included in the mourning process. They want to understand why people in their world seem to be unsettled and inconsolable.
That Van Gogh suffered an identity crisis throughout his life is evident.
Vincent was according to his sister, Elizabeth a sensitive loner and tagged as weird due to his picky eating habits and attraction to nature rather than participating in group activities.
Due to his father’s calling as a pastor he also endured relocations and change of schools.
His early artworks were not outstanding and he tended to copy more than create. At the age of 19 he was employed in the art trade with Goupil and company, but after six years his self destructive behaviour and suicidal thoughts lead to a sudden leave. The deeply imbedded belief of disposition continued throughout his life and was highlighted by his faltered romantic endeavours, bankrupted art career, health challenge, alcoholism and Christian fanaticism.
Was Vincent van Gogh’s path unnecessarily challenging?
Self-Destructive behaviour is the umbrella for subtle and prominent struggles after a loss and is one of the most prominent calls-for-help. Parents might regard this as a phase that will past,but this might not. The child needs to feel taken care of in a holistic way.
Not every child that encounter the aftereffects of grief will become famous, neither will they necessarily suffer from depression. But honest and open communication contribute to children’s understanding of the circle of life in general. Children want to be sure who they are and where they belong. They need a tribe.
Journaling Through Loss and Grief will help the caregiver understand their own emotions and in turn, be better equipped to help children deal with loss.
Nothing can replace a well-acquainted exemplar midst a nurturing and peaceful environment.