It’s tempting to try to hide our tears and fears from our living children and grandchildren.
Who wants to overload a young heart and mind with grown-up problems?
There is definitely a place and time to shelter little people-it’s never appropriate to offload onto small shoulders what we just don’t want to carry ourselves.
But it is neither helpful nor healthy to pretend that sorrow and sadness don’t follow loss.
When I stuff feelings and insist on keeping a “stiff upper lip” I’m telling my kids that it’s not OK to admit that they are struggling.
When I act like it’s no big deal to set up the Christmas tree and deck the halls without their brother here, I’m encouraging them to remain silent instead of speaking up if their hearts are heavy instead of happy.
When I never voice my discomfort with certain activities or social events I am modeling a false front and fake smiles.
Of course, there are times we all have to suck it up and suck it in along this path. But that shouldn’t be the norm. As I’ve said over and over before-if we stuff our hearts full of unreleased feelings, we leave no room for the grace and mercy God wants to pour into them.
I can tell you that many, many folks have interviewed surviving siblings years and decades after their brother or sister left and have consistently discovered that most of them tried hard to live up to whatever standards their grieving parents set.
If Mom and Dad refused to talk about the loss, then they refused to talk about it too. If, on the other hand, the family practiced open communication, they were able to process feelings in real time instead of stuffing and having to deal with them later.
One of the greatest challenges in child loss (or any profound loss) is creating space within our closest grief circle to allow each person affected to express themselves whatever that looks like.
But it’s so, so important!
Don’t hide your tears.
Don’t shut down the questions.
Don’t lock away the uncertainty and anxiety child loss brings in a trunk and only bring it out when no one’s watching.
Because the little people (and not so little people) in your house are ALWAYS watching.
They need permission to grieve. ❤