24 Mar
Posted in: parenting
By    1 Comment

The Thing About Grief

Spring sunrise in Wyoming

I picked up our 8th grader from school on Wednesday expecting our normal post-school conversation. The script goes something like this: I ask him to tell me something about his day. He tells me about some meme someone showed him at lunch. I either laugh, or don’t get it and he laughs. He’ll run through his homework list and pick a few small things to discuss. Thus concludes the recap with further items thrown in at random times throughout the evening. Not on Wednesday.

“So, I almost punched someone, but I didn’t.” I had a guess where this was going. We tried to prepare him. I suppose since he didn’t punch anyone, then he was prepared for a sudden bout of anger and stopped it. But, I’ve been worried and a little on-guard. The thing with grief is that it’s unpredictable, harsh and multifaceted. On Tuesday, we celebrated the life of a young man that my son admired. He’s gone far too soon, and it’s confusing. There are lots of whys. We told our son he might hear people say things inappropriate or uninformed. He knew what to say and walk away. Some boys in PE said something and wouldn’t stop. There were tears. A teacher stepped in and calmed a hurting teen. There are some teachers who have quietly been a saving grace for our family this last week. No one was pushed, and no punches were thrown. The sudden bouts of anger over the last week take our normally docile child off-guard. He’s surprised by that reaction mixed with the sadness, confusion and love.

This is the first time our children have been blind-sided and consumed by grief. We had no idea how they would grieve when we sat them down with news I was ill-equipped to deliver. It’s uncharted territory and rockier with someone so young. There’s been anger and quiet and tears and laughter. There’s been no eating and trouble sleeping. There’s been chats with counselors and surrounding ourselves with others who know.

We’ve been open with our own grief with our children. My heart hurts in so many ways. On Thursday, I had my own bout of anger with another adult. In a normal week, I would have shrugged it off as annoying. Instead I was snippy and grouchy. I threw a tantrum. I apologized, but I’m just as taken aback by my emotions as my 14-year-old. We’re working one step at a time through grief that strikes at times when I least expect it. It’s the ebb and flow of the process as I watch my teen that makes it even more difficult.

Grief sits on top of a current of love. Loss stings because we loved. Grief is a horrible pot of all the feelings swirling and mixing uncomfortably, disappearing at times only to rear up to remind us how much we loved. March has festered with grief for many people we know, several precious lives lost and people left hurting and healing. Be kind friends. You don’t know who is suffering or from what. Extend grace in the moment and blanket people with kindness.


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1 Comment

  • So wonderfully explained. We are having the same emotions at our home too. Thank you for your eloquent explanation.