“I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate if they do, and if they don’t.”  ~ C.S Lewis

Grief is a complicated animal. It makes it hard to chart a course to a better tomorrow, its waves can batter you over and over again. Some moments are gentler than others, some moments crash you softly onto the shore, other moments thrust you against the rocks. But that is grief. It ebbs and it flows. It cuts and heals all at the same time.

Grief makes its home in the in-betweens of life. Neither hot nor cold. It wants to be surrounded yet left alone. As a child, grief can make one feel invisible, and there are moments when invisible is exactly where one wants to be. Sometimes it feels secure knowing the world is on the outside as you sit in dark corners. But those moments are fleeting. Isolation is no place to stay, it offers no growth, no sunshine and no rain.

Any child or teen that has experienced the death of someone close knows how the routine goes. People usually resort to two options: Well-meaning folks ask how you are and how things are going, others avoid such inquiries altogether. Neither harbor malicious intent. Grief is a difficult ocean to navigate for everyone, both for its passengers and for those that dwell in lighthouses. Which approach is best? Well, that depends on the moment, it may be easier to hit the moon with a slingshot than predict the “right time” to ask someone (or not) how life is going, how we are coping.

C.S Lewis summarizes grief’s complex tapestry quite well. In his book, A Grief Observed, he writes, “I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate if they do, and if they don’t.” 

 That is grief, it demands seclusion as much as it demands the center stage, and both simultaneously. As a grieving child, I recoiled at the thought of people asking me how I was, to rip off my emotional bandages so that they might apply their own brand of ointment. However, at the same time, I wanted to be asked, it made my loneliness feel exposed, painfully and wonderfully exposed. We all have an innate desire to be known. Grief sets us on a razor’s edge, a tip in either direction could send us cascading into emotion, for better or for worse.

No matter how secure the isolation may feel at the moment, it is no place to live. As years wear on, isolation does you no favors, it buries you. Healing begins when we know we are not alone. Not every day will bring sunshine, but even gray clouds won’t stay gray forever. For a child, a grief center is a great place to start that journey to healing. Knowing that there are kids just like them, who have lost, who struggle, who knows what it feels like to want to hide in plain sight.

The National Alliance for Grieving Children has graciously compiled a list of grief support service providers who serve children, teens, and families all across the country.

 

No child should have to grieve alone. #ChildrenGrieveToo