By: Kate Atwood
[Today is National Children’s Grief Awareness Day. It comes on the heels of the tragic terrorist attacks around the world. And while a lot of us are grieving a sense of loss of our own freedom by these attacks, hundreds of families are experiencing the darkest days of grief as they mourn the death of loved ones. These days are long and confusing, dynamic in emotions, and ultimately life changing. I know them well. I dedicate this day to them and to every child across the world that is facing life after the loss of a loved one.]
I remember one of my last conversations with my mom. I was 12, sitting on her hospital bed, still no idea her death was just days away. I remember her stroking my hair and saying how she really wanted to be there for the big moments in my life: my prom, my high school graduation, my wedding. She went on to add that what she really worried about, more than those big moments she would miss, was the little moments, the little moments that would bring me to my knees. Those moments that I wouldn’t know were coming but that would demand for a loving hand on my back and hug on my heart.
And my mom was right. Grief is not the big moments, not these boxed up stages that we try to convince ourselves we have gotten through. Grief changes your life. Anyone who has experienced it, knows it. Yet, somehow we have kept our burden of grief private from the world, collectively. And we just can’t afford to do that anymore. Not only is it effecting our relationships, losing a parent at a young age is now being linked to more severe behavioral problems for a child, and even chronic illness in adults. Unresolved grief can harbor a lot of anger and dark sadness. It is why the reaction to loss can reveal such extreme hatred and apathy among us.
I have always felt that grief is the ultimate connector. No matter what corner of the community you come from, your socioeconomic status, your ethnicity, your faith, no one is immune to grief. It is the one thing that we will all experience. So why do we continue to live in a world where it is not ok to grieve?
Grief is not something to overcome. It is something to be acknowledged and supported. And in a world where it is ok to grieve, we accept that and we prepare our kids to ultimately thrive because of it. Now that we are all tasting a bit of grief as a global community, I am as passionate as ever to build a world where it is ok to grieve. Can you imagine? I can…
- A world where there is no judgment if you want to talk about somebody you loved who has died.
- A world where there is no shame in crying about someone you have lost even if it was 2, 10 or 20 years ago.
- A world where seeking out help is available to all, and receiving it comes with comfort, not disgrace.
- A world where we react to a misbehaving child not in disgust, but with a more compassionate, “are you ok?”
- A world where a child knows in those little moments of despair, when everyone else around him is happy, he can approach his teacher and say, “I’m not ok.”
- A world where any person who is drowning in her grief can feel the comfort of a hand on her back and know they are not alone.
- A world where words and memories of loved ones who have died are shared as openly as when they were alive.
- A world where we see grief as a gift rather than a burden, a gift that teaches us courage, compassion and love.
That’s a world where it is ok to grieve, and I can’t wait to see it!
How you can help:
- Join me and Kate’s Club as we raise awareness for Blue November. Please share this post.
- If you know a family that is grieving, or if you are a caregiver of a child who is grieving, I recommend getting the book “Explain Death to a Child” by Twigtale. Twigtale is a remarkable children’s book series thatoffers parents and caregivers the ability to build personalized books to aid in transitions such as the loss of a loved one. https://www.twigtale.com/books/explain-death-to-a-child
- If you are grieving, share a story about your loved one to a friend or on social media today. Share it without guilt, share it because of the love your still feel.