Children Grieve Too
Thursday November 15th is Children’s Grief Awareness Day
“Observed every year on the third Thursday of November, Children’s Grief Awareness Day strives to remind grieving children they are not alone. This time of year is a particularly appropriate time as the holiday season is especially difficult after a death. Children’s Grief Awareness Day seeks to bring attention to the importance of being sensitive to the needs of grieving children and their families and that caring support can make all the difference in their lives.”
Children grieve. Unfortunately they suffer losses too. They mourn and they feel sad. But it is difficult to fully understand the process since it may come in pieces and stages for a child. Depending on his or her age, it may be overwhelming and the child may need to step in and out of the shadow of grief on the way to a healthy recovery. Children have not experienced as much life as an adult has, so when death interrupts their childhood, it is unsettling and disturbing. Their limited years of living do not give them the same perspective as an adult and it can be very frightening.
“Healing from grief is not the process of forgetting. It is the process of remembering with less pain and more joy.” ( Author unknown)
When I was watching my children process the death of their father I was confused. I knew what I was feeling but I did not know their sentiments. I was anxious for their grief to pass quickly. I did not want to see them suffer any longer yet I knew that there was nothing that I could do to bring their Dad back. I suspected that the experience was going to move slowly and I hoped that we would be able to get through the rough times together.
Talking honestly with one another helped. We shared our feelings and thoughts as we journeyed together on our grief path. We hugged often and long, and we cried freely. But we also allowed ourselves to laugh about our fond memories as we reminisced about our special days as a family.
“Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way.” (Native American Proverb)
As the years went by and we experienced life’s milestones without Dad, a tiny piece of grief always became a part of the day. While there was great joy on significant birthdays, at graduations, and on holidays, there would always be a small dark spot. It was almost a sacred little moment of silence that we each experienced and served to remind us of “Him”. We each respected that space and openly acknowledged it.
Next year it will be twenty years since David has been gone. Our children have passed though elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and law school. So many opportunities for memories. They are sensitive, caring young adults now in relationships of their own. As a result they have a better understanding of my loss as a wife. However, as much as I try, I will never fully understand the impact of their loss since I continue to enjoy the company of both of my parents as I am
now into my sixth decade of my life. I can only marvel at our offspring’s resilience and courage. I am so proud of each one of them everyday and know that their father is too.
On this day if you know of a young person who has recently lost a loved one, or any one who may have experienced a childhood loss, take a moment to tell the person that you are thinking about them. You do not need to offer sage words of advice or try and come up with answers for the reason why. Just a simple, “I am thinking about you and remembering your loved one” is an important gesture of kindness. By speaking up you validate their loss and make a connection with your own life. Comforting words sometimes are what get us through the day.
“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” (Mother Theresa)
Check out the National Alliance for Grieving Children’s web site and learn more about this valuable organization at www.childrengrieve.org