'Santa' grants terminally ill child's Christmas wish
Eric Schmitt-Matzen, 60 is a Santa Claus actor who is very dedicated to his craft, even going to the extent of bleaching his beard and styling it so that it looks just like how kids would imagine Santa Claus to be.
However, after a recent visit to a terminally ill child, he feels that he might not be able to play the role any longer.
You're my number one elf!
Eric received a call from a local hospital, with a nurse asking him to visit a dying 5-year-old boy. He barely had enough time to change into his full Santa outfit since he had just come home from work.
Upon meeting the five-year-old, he said that the little boy was so weak that the boy was struggling to unwrap the Christmas present that he brought. He then told the child, "What’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!"
The little boy then told him, "They say I’m gonna die. How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?" To which Eric answered, "Can you do me a big favor? When you get there, you tell 'em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in."
"I handed her son back and left as fast as I could"
He adds that the little boy then sat up, gave him a big hug, and then asked him for one more question. The boy said, "Santa, can you help me?"
Eric then wrapped his arms around the little boy, he shares, "Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him."
"Everyone outside the room realised what happened. His mother ran in. She was screaming, 'No, no, not yet!' I handed her son back and left as fast as I could."
Eric was so devastated by what happened that he wasn't even able to visit his grandchildren the next day, and said that he was "a basket case" for three days.
It took him more than a week to get over the incident and get back to work. He initially thought that he wouldn't be able to play the role again after what happened, but he said that when he saw the children laugh for what would have been his last show, it made him realise just how much joy he brings to kids' lives.
Go to the next page to learn more about coping with loss in a positive way.
How can I cope with loss positively?
Losing a loved one, most especially a child, is one of the most devastating experiences that a parent can go through. For most parents, it's unimaginable to even think about their children dying before them. That's why it's very difficult for parents to cope with the loss of their child.
Here are some positive steps that should help make the loss much more bearable:
- Reach out to family members or close friends. Reaching out to a close friend or your family members is very important when it comes to handling grief. They can support you in your time of need and help you slowly cope with your loss.
- Go to counseling. For some people, counseling is a good option to have. Talking to someone that can help you, or going to a group with other parents that have had the same experiences as you will let you handle your loss much better, and will make you feel that there are other people who know exactly how you feel, and are willing to help you out.
- Meditate, or pray. For some people, their strength is in their faith. Some people pray, others meditate. It helps give them peace of mind and it clears their head about the things that have happened in their lives.
- Give yourself time. There's a saying that goes "Time heals all wounds." And that's very true. Sometimes, no amount of grief counseling, meditation, or talking to family members can help you cope with your loss. Sometimes it just takes time to help you deal with the situation so that you can finally accept the death.
- Cry. Crying helps you release a lot of your pent up emotions and stress. Having a good cry can make you feel better, and studies have actually shown that crying gets rid of stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins, or "feel good" hormones in your body.
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