It’s been a few years since I’ve written, I’m not sure if you noticed. I guess the last time we officially corresponded I had some less than nice things to say about you. I’m sorry about that, I hope you understand. I mean, let’s be honest, I’m sure you’ve heard worse.
Our relationship has been complicated to say the very least. There have been many moments over the past decade or so when I viewed my world through a very small window veiled in a curtain of emotion – the emotion I felt you were responsible for. So far as I could tell, you and you alone were the link between a life that made sense and a life that seemed…crooked; only now am I beginning to understand you weren’t actually responsible for my dissonance.
At the intersection of life with my mother and life without, death was present – not you. Death was (and is) responsible for my sorrow; you grief, just had the thankless duty of ferrying me away from the tragedy. You initiated me into a life without my mother. You forced me to feel the pain. You stayed with me until I fully acknowledged the reality of my losses. You exposed my fractured and frayed worldview. You never left. You never relented. You were always there as a reminder of what was and what is. This was your job and, although I didn’t know it then, I needed you.
I needed you to force me to feel these awful emotions. I needed you to help me acknowledge the magnitude of my losses. This was all necessary in learning to live with the reality of my mother’s death, to make sense of something that seemed so unfair, and to eventually find some sort of meaning in all of it. I still need you because this process of accepting, making sense, and making meaning…it never ends.
You help me to continue my bond with my mother. You point out reminders of her, and now even the sad ones make me smile. You push me to grow stronger and to continue to evolve my worldview in a way that accommodates both the reality of her death and the possibility of having a relationship with someone who is no longer here on earth.
Children’s Grief Awareness Day is next week on November 19th. As a part of the day we are asking children and adults to write letters to you, grief. Letters just like this one telling you about the impact you’ve had on children. I know some letters, like those I wrote you in the early years, will be filled with hurt and anger. My letter, though, is written from a different angle because when I think about the impact you’ve had on the children in my life, I feel grateful to you.
When death stole the opportunity for my children to meet their grandmother, you stepped in and helped me find a way for them to have a relationship with her regardless. My sorrow, yearning, reverence, and sometimes even anger created a reality where I couldn’t help but talk about her. The reminders that once brought on a flood of sad tears (you remember what those were like) now bring fond tears, and through these tears I share my memories of my mother with my girls. I believe you, grief, are a big part of this – so thank you.
Many people wear blue in honor of Children’s Grief Awareness Day. Some people take pictures of themselves wearing blue and they share them as a way to raise awareness. So, in honor of this, here are my girls wearing blue.
To support Children’s Grief Awareness Day along with What’s Your Grief and countless other grief support organizations across the country, here’s what you can do:
- Write a letter to grief: Not only is this a way to support Children’s Grief Awareness Day, but it is a healing and therapeutic activity to try on your own or with a child. We are compiling letters and we will share them on November 19th, so if you’re willing to share please send your letter to [email protected] These letters can say anything and they can be by anyone, but they have to be about grief and its impact on a child or children.
- Share blue photos: Share your blue photos with us and we will re-share. Some people wear blue and share a photo of this, but we encourage you to use blue or interpret blue any way you like. Share them with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter by tagging us @whatsyourgrief or using the hashtag #blueforyou.
- Check out the official Children’s Grief Awareness Day website for additional ways to participate.
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