In Memory of Jesse Part II: The Dead Kid List

By Margie Nichols, Ph.D.

Displayed at eye level on my freezer door is a magnet my son gave me that says “Gardening, yoga, bubble baths, medication…..and I still want to smack somebody!”

In my last post I described a little of how therapy, meditation, etc etc helped me survive the death of my daughter Jesse. Therapy, with Bruce Wood, a therapist’s therapist if there ever was one, actually reaffirmed my own belief in the importance of what I do for a living. This was an unintended positive consequence, not only of therapy, but also of Jesse’s death. As Ram Dass would say, you would never wish it to happen this way, but… it is. Grist for the mill.

Anyway, I realized after posting that I had left a couple of things out of the list of healing activities. One is dark humor. Like the magnet. Or jokes about playing the ‘dead kid card’ to get – or get out of- things. I learned the value of laughing in the face of death in the ‘80’s, during the years I ran a group for guys with AIDS. No cryin’ in that group, for the most part – just a lot of information exchange about treatments, studies, doctors – and grim, wickedly dark humor.

Another is devouring any story that involves a dead kid. That’s why I watched “Rabbit Hole” this year. Twice.

Now some of you probably think this is crazy. You’re right! Now you know why shrinks become shrinks. We process pain by vicariously reliving it over and over again. A supervisor once said, “Shrinks are the only people who need forty hours of therapy a week.”

At any rate, now that you know my weird secret, please help me. I recently put a file on my desktop called “dead kid list.” I want to keep a record of movies, books, plays, memoirs or biographies, poetry, that concern dead kids. And my list is pitifully small right now, I know I’ve forgotten a lot of what I’ve already read or seen, not to mention lots of stories I don’t yet know. For the most part, these are stories that involve the grief AFTER a kid croaks, not ones in which a kid dies at the end.

Here it is:

• Rabbit hole

• Accidental tourist

• Human stain

• Ordinary people

• Welcome to the Reillys

• Mystic River


• Accidental tourist

• Human stain

• Little bee

• Mystic river

• Death be not proud

• Shadow child


• Rabbit Hole



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