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  • Mom Creates Children's Book to Help Her Kids Cope with their Father's Passing

    It is a reminder of their father’s unconditional love.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Mom Creates Children's Book to Help Her Kids Cope with their Father's Passing
PHOTO BY courtesy of Tin Tagaza-Baraga
  • Moms are tough. They need to be, because so much is expected of them — care for the kids, run the household, be a dutiful partner — and they are always able to rise to the occasion. Moms know they have to be strong for their children no matter what, even when faced with the loss of a loved one.

    Tin Barraga never thought she would become a widow at the age of 33. She and her husband Archie had only been married for six years and were enjoying raising their two kids — Caleb, 4, and Amaia, 8 months. Both dentists, they put up their own dental clinic and were hard at work preparing for a bright future for their family. Then, tragedy struck.

    “February 1, 2019, was supposed to be a normal day for us. We had celebrated our daughter Amaia’s eight ‘monthsary’ the night before, and the next morning, I saw Archie get up to get ready for work,” Tin recalls in an email interview with SmartParenting.com.ph.

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    Tin with her late husband Archie, and children Caleb and Amaia.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tin Tagaza-Baraga

    Since she didn’t get enough sleep (Amaia’s sleep pattern was still unpredictable) the night before, Tin fell asleep again after seeing her husband wake up. A few minutes later, she was woken up by their helpers in a panic because Archie was not looking well. “He was perspiring a lot. He said he couldn’t breathe and then he passed out,” Tin shares.

    Tin immediately drove her husband to the nearest hospital, and when they got to the emergency room, Archie regained consciousness. Though he was having difficulty breathing, he could still talk, so Tin was hoping for him to recover.

    Unfortunately, Archie passed away that morning. “At just 33 years old, with no history of heart ailment, he succumbed to cardiac arrest,” Tin says.

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    The mom of two was devastated. Nothing can ever really prepare us from the death of a loved one, but when you suddenly lose your partner, where do you even begin telling your children that they won’t be able to see their father ever again?

    “When I went home, [my son] asked for his daddy. I told him daddy is very sick. His heart stopped working and the doctors were not able to fix him,” Tin shares.

    Before she took her son Caleb to the funeral, she had already prepared and talked to him about what to expect. “He already has a notion of heaven, God, and death. When he asked about his daddy, I came up with a story explaining to him and my daughter why their daddy is not around anymore,” the mom of two shares.

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    A story for healing

    The cover of 'Our Daddy in Heaven" written by Tin for her children.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tin Tagaza-Baraga

    Caleb loved bedtime stories and usually, Tin would make up a story on the spot. When Archie passed, Caleb would ask Tin to tell “daddy’s story” every night. Tin had it memorized, but she thought it would be better if her son could visualize the story with illustrations. She then had the idea of making a children’s book about her husband, which could also help her younger child understand Archie’s passing when she grows older.

    Tin went on Facebook and asked for help and suggestions from the mommy group she belonged to. A lot of moms gave her ideas, but one mom named Pia Dysangco-Villamor messaged her to turn her idea into a reality. Pia is part of A Little Alliterations, a group that creates personalized storybooks and educational materials for kids. She introduced Tin to Gem Vecino, an illustrator, and they started working on Tin’s book.

    The book gives a background on Caleb and Amaia's dad and how their family started.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tin Tagaza-Baraga
    It took them almost a month before the book was made. “Gem and I were constantly exchanging emails. She created the draft and I approved it. We finalized everything and then had it printed,” Tin says.

    Tin admits getting emotional when she first saw the illustrations. “You can really tell that it’s Archie, me and my children,” she says. “When the book was delivered to me, I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe I had made a book!”
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    Remembering Daddy

    Tin made sure the explanation for Archie's passing was something her kids could grasp and understand.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tin Tagaza-Baraga

    When Tin showed the book to Caleb, he immediately smiled and said, “It’s Daddy Archie’s book.” From her son’s smile alone, Tin knew the project was worth it.

    “Until now, I can’t help but get teary-eyed whenever I read it to them. I told Caleb the book is precious and there is only one [copy], so he needs to take care of it,” Tin says. “He’s memorized the book and he acts as if he’s reading it to his sister from time to time.”

    Tin admits that she is still grieving, but the book has helped pave the way for healing. “It is true that when you lose a spouse, you also lose half the person that you are. The day my husband died, I know half of me died with him,” she says. “It’s still too fresh and it was very sudden — I haven’t grasped the reality of it yet but I am trying to live one day at a time, trying to survive and always praying for courage to get through life without him. You cannot overcome grief, but they said that it will be bearable as time passed.”

    Tin draws strength from God and her children. Now that she’s become a single mom, her only wish is to be able to give her kids the future that she and Archie dreamed for them. She also wants to make sure that her kids will never forget their dad. “I will make sure they know how loved they are by their dad. Even in his final moments, the only thing that was on his mind is his love for them and their welfare. I want the memories of their daddy to always remain in their hearts,” she says.

    Tin ends the story with a heartwarming passage — our loved ones never really leave us because they are always in our hearts.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tin Tagaza-Baraga
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