Children’s Grief Awareness Month: Thinking Like A Mom


Children's Grief Awareness MonthSo I like to read before bed. And by “read,” this means some nights I think about putting down Facebook and reading. Other nights I get through two pages. And still other nights I succumb to insomnia and make it through a few chapters while cursing how late it is.

Reading is one of the small parts of my self care. This is something that is part of my identity as Melissa, not as a mom. I rarely read “mom” books. And I had this before bed routine prior to being a wife or mother.

However, once a mother always a mother. We just can’t turn it off, can we.

I few nights ago I start reading a book called Us Against You, by Fredrick Backman. You may know him as the author of A Man Named Ove. I have a special affinity for his less popular book My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. But now I’m off topic.

And speaking of topics, I will get to Children’s Grief Awareness Month in a bit, I promise.

Anyway, it doesn’t seem like a particularly “mom” focused book although I’m only on chapter 3. Yet I came across a passage last night that I just had to read again, then I had to keep it in notes, and then (insomnia setting in) decided there might be a blog post there because of the emotions it drew up in me.

Here is the passage:

“No matter how old they get, we never want to cry in front of our children. We’d do anything for them; they never know because they don’t understand the immensity of something that is unconditional. A parent’s love is unbearable, reckless, irresponsible. They’re so small when they sleep in their beds and we sit beside them, shattered to pieces inside. It’s a lifetime of shortcomings, and, feeling guilty, we stick happy pictures up everywhere, but we never show the gaps in the photograph album, where everything that hurts is hidden away. The silent tears in darkened rooms. We lie awake, terrified of all the things that can happen to them, everything they might be subjected to, all the situations in which they could end up victims.”

Ok now that I reread the passage in front of me on the computer screen it sounds dark and negative. But it tightened my chest as I read it. It resonated. I don’t like it but to some extent it is true.

I didn’t want to but, I found my mind saying, “yes, yes to this. All of this.”

So now let’s dissect it a bit.

The therapist in me says,

“Of course you cry in front of your children! That’s how you show them it is ok to have emotion. Crying is healthy.”

However, the mom in me just recently shielded my children from my tears. We recently had a loss in the family. Some of my son’s questions about missing his aunt, heaven, and death, have triggered my tears and I have found myself holding them back or turning my head.

Why? I think it is our inherent desire to protect our children.

To buffer their pain. I have told him I am sad and that it is ok to be sad, but maybe I’m worried my tears will increase his pain. I know for a fact that his pain increases mine. 

As the passage says, a parent’s love is beyond bounds. I would have never thought to use the words unbearable, or reckless, but sometimes it is.

I wouldn’t change it for anything but it changes everything forever.

Our children are a part of us. We survive by keeping all parts of ourself whole and safe.

The second half of the passage, in my opinion, implies loss.

Implies losing a piece of you. The gut wrenching pain of not being whole. So much of our children’s well being is out of our control. Hell, life is out of our control for the most part. So the deep desire to control and keep safe when we can’t always do so, is at times unbearable.

So what do we do? We enjoy and we love.

We are thankful for what we have when we have it. We hold them close, and then we trust and let them fly. All while loving with wild abandon.

Unbearable at times, yes. Wildly amazing and worth all the heartache? Yes to that too.

Maybe part of why this passage struck me (besides the ugly truth of it) is that November was Children’s Grief Awareness Month. I spent the month hoping to make the silent grievers (children) a little less silent. And where there is a grieving child, there is a grieving parent.

I don’t like it but the saying is true: their pain is our pain.

Click on the Children’s Grief Awareness Month link above and see how you can be a superhero in disguise and support grieving children (and their parents too).

I’m going to hug mine a little tighter tonight and be proud of the love between us. Will you be doing the same?

Children's Grief Awareness Month

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I grew up in Orange County then went to Los Angeles (with a short detour in Santa Barbara) for college and spent the next 12 years there thinking that was home until I met my amazing, now husband on and moved back here to start our life together. I have a young son and daughter that are two years apart. They are thick as thieves and keep us laughing. I worked in Hospice care for 15 years and now I take Working Mom to a whole new dimension with a private mental health practice I worked hard with many jobs hustling for many years to grow my own business. I'm proud to say I'm helping people in my own office full time. The decision to quit my full time job working for some one else and to work towards creating much needed grief, trauma and self esteem support in Orange County fills my soul. I may not spend 24/7 with my kids but I plan to be role model to them and the time we have is all about quality not quantity. I'm working on a life/work balance but I find this is much easier when I love all aspects of my life and work and self.