Observing Grief

Friends, these are uncertain times, are they not?  The majority of us are not used to waking up one day and having our whole world, really the whole world, change before our eyes.  From the way we interact, live, approach life, we’ve been given a reset button of sorts.  We woke up one day in the last few weeks and suddenly everything was different.

For one population I’ve had a front-row seat to watch this change unfurl, my kids.  We went to bed one-night expecting school and a “normal” routine the next day and instead woke up to school canceled.  That first day felt like a fun snow day of sorts, though the weather was an abnormally warm 70 degrees and sunny.  Instead of snow gear, they donned shorts and t-shirts and ran and played out back only stopping to retrieve their picnic lunch. I thought to myself, this quarantine is going to be great.

Then the reality of what we were facing began to hit.  The enthusiasm that we started with started to deflate and emotions ran high.  Our reactions to one another were less than becoming is the nicest way to put it.  Midway through the week,  as I was hiding in my bedroom from the kids, I began to pray, what invitation is there to see here?  What eyes do I need to see?  Reinvigorated by a good cry and few bites of leftover birthday cake we went through the rest of our day but this time I saw what was going on inside my kids, they were grieving.

Grief is a companion we’re familiar with around this home.  And since we’ve spent time getting to know grief I know it comes out in unique ways from different people, at different stages along the way.  My kids woke up one morning torn away from their friends, their teachers and their everyday community and way of life.  Yes, home is their special place, but the majority of their waking hours are spent in school.  They’ve been given very little explanation as to why this is, that they can understand at least (“because of the coronavirus, right Mommy?”) and they never got closure to say goodbye.  At the end of the school year or even before an extended holiday break teachers, would have been winding down and special celebrations had.  Our kids got none of that.  I also realized where I can send a quick text or Polo to a friend, our kids are too young for their own devices and social media so they’ve essentially been cut off from their community.

I’ve seen and read headlines of how to help kids cope with the fear and anxiety of this unsettling time but I haven’t seen much about dealing with the fact that they are grieving.  Not only is school missed, but sports and activities, birthday parties and just the fun of a meet up at the neighborhood playground.  Grief can come out at any moment and I’m trying my best to keep these new eyes of compassion to see when my kids need a hug and not a lecture.

I think it’s true that all of us are grieving in a way right now.  How do we give ourselves grace so that we can extend that grace to others around us who need it too right now?  Sometimes it might be a good cry and some birthday cake.

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