This desire to be an advocate for grieving children came from my own experience as a grieving child. My mother died of leukemia when I was four years old. Below is my first written piece on the subject of grief:
Grief Has No Manners
Grief has no manners, it doesn’t knock before it enters a room and it hangs around much longer than we want. Grief barges in whenever it wants, but not by kicking in the door. Grief enters slowly, unassumingly, and takes its place in the center of the room. I have tried hard for many years, decades even, to escape it. Burying it is only an illusion, you can’t run from it either because it’s always there when you turn around. Sure, you can “talk” about it. Which usually ends up becoming an opportunity for well-meaning folks to express their own sympathy towards your plight. I have looked for the escape hatch, I have run the race to leave it behind to no avail, and I have endured countless hours of therapy sessions. And guess what? Grief didn’t even flinch. Victory isn’t really a victory, it’s only suppression and repression masquerading as such. But maybe grief is inescapable for a reason, maybe it’s a gift.
C.S Lewis said it best in his book, A Grief Observed, speaking of the death of his wife he said: “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” How true is that? The sentiment is spot on. Grief literally spreads itself over every fabric of life, it leaves nothing untouched. His word choice is appropriate too. Absence. Not being there, where ever “there” happens to be at the moment. It is more than a “loss” of a loved one, it is an absence of a loved one. Loss implies the potential for gain. I might have lost my wallet but I can have a hope of finding it, to gain it back. No so with death. At least not here, on this side of eternity. I didn’t simply lose my mother, she was taken. For me, she is absent in every sense of the word. All things that made her my mother to me are gone. Her appearance, her smell, her voice, and her embrace. What was once there is no longer, it is absent and that absence has been felt every day since.
“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
But why grief? Why can’t it be momentary? Why can’t it have a shelf life or expiration date? Isn’t 28 years long enough? How many tears should it take? An ocean full? This is where we neglect the value of grief. What if it was never meant to be a burden we carry for a lifetime? We grieve because we love. Without love, there is no grief. I don’t grieve because my mother is dead, I grieve because I loved my mother so much. There is a difference. Grief reminds us just how powerful love is. Love can wreck our souls but we still desire it greatly, we want to experience it anyways. We want to love and we want to be loved. Grief reminds us of how powerful that sentiment is. If we have grieved greatly we have loved greatly. There is no shame in that. The times I have tried to escape grief or the times I have tried to bury it only made matters worse. But the moment I took a glimpse at it in light of love I saw its value. Does this mean tears cease? No. Does this mean pain will be vanquished? Not at all. It simply means that the tears and the pain are products of a soul that has loved deeply. Death is no match for love.
~ Jacob, Children Grieve Too