"Dear Me" to 4 year old Jacob Pippin

Dear Me Letter
The NAGC sent out a call for letters from those who experienced childhood breavement. The letters were to be written to their younger self and hopefully show today’s grieving children and teens that there is a brighter future ahead..

The following letter comes to us from Jacob Pippin.


 
Dear 4-year-old Me,Jocob Pippin mymom

It’s three days after Christmas and your mommy just took her final breath. Cancer just took her life. You don’t understand why, most 4 year olds wouldn’t. You don’t know really understand what all the needles were for, or the wig. You don’t know what leukemia is or chemotherapy. All you know is what they tell you, that she‘s gone and she isn’t coming back.

You’ll have to live with Grandma and Grandpa now, but know that they will love you like their own son, despite the difficulties over the years. Your mom was their only daughter, she was 26. You’ll stand outside a lot and stare at the stars, you don’t really know why but it always made you feel better, it makes the pain seem smaller. Sometimes you wish you were one of those small lights in the distance, far away and above it all. You run around the house sometimes, screaming. The noise helps the world seem silent.

One day you will be 5, then 6, and you will start school. School is routine and you learn to love routines. It keeps your mind busy. You will still feel alone a lot, like there is a veil between you and the world. You see moms and dads all around you and you’ll wonder why you are so different. You’ll visit a tall man in a fancy office, he will watch as you play on the playground and he will write in his journal. He’ll decide you need medicine, you don’t why. You will have to stop by the school nurse and she gives it to you while your class goes to lunch, you won’t like that. You already feel different.

You’ll have to answer questions, questions you will become numb to. “Why do you call her Grandma?” “Where’s your mom?” “Where’s your dad?” You become good at answering them, the words become routine and you like routine. You’ll have to answer other questions too, like “Jacob, what you want to be when you grow up?” Grow up? Be? What do I want to be? You don’t know how to answer it. For you, there wasn’t “when you grow up” there was only tomorrow. Will I be ok, tomorrow?

Middle school will come and go, you will make friends and learn to be “normal,” a survivable normal at least. It will feel like you’ve gone years without remembering her, it makes you feel bad, it makes you feel like you’re losing her again. Sometimes you pull out her picture, you sit and look at it, you close your eyes and pray for a memory. You will go to high school too. You’ll play sports, sports with routine, you still love routine. You find that as long as your busy you don’t have to think, to really think. One day you will look around and see friends making college plans, you don’t. You’ll feel angry about that. Your heart will feel like a broken compass, no direction seems right. You will try college but it doesn’t work out, at least for now.

Life starts to feel like a slow drip. But one day you will meet a beautiful woman and who will ask her to be your wife (she will “yes” so don’t be too nervous). The more time you spend with her the more you worry that she will she how damaged your heart is. She knows that it is but she will love you anyway. One day you will become a Daddy and you will LOVE being a Daddy.

One day, many years from now, you will look back at your life and ponder all the hard questions. One day you will realize that throughout all the years of pain and tears that you were never alone, even though it felt like it most times. One day, child, you will realize that grief is the other side of love, the price we all pay for loving so deeply.

Love,

Future You

"Dear Me" to 16 year old Me

Dear Me Letter
The NAGC sent out a call for letters from those who experienced childhood breavement. The letters were to be written to their younger self and hopefully show today’s grieving children and teens that there is a brighter future ahead.

The following letter's author is anonymous. 


 
Dear 16-year-old Me,

Fourteen years have gone by since your mother died. There have been fourteen Easters, fourteen birthdays, fourteen Christmas, fourteen Thanksgivings, and many more celebrations your mother was not there for. You have survived all of them.

Some of them have been easier than others, but what I want to tell you is that you have kept your mother’s memory alive. People have tried to stop you from being sad or feeling the way you feel, but you have not let them discourage you.

I know sometimes it feels as if none of this is real and when you talk about her it is as if she never existed. She died and it has been very difficult, but you survived. Not just survived; you thrived.

Keep writing to her, keep journaling, and keep talking about her. It is so important and has helped you so much in your grief journey. You found your own way of healing and dealing with the sadness. You created a life for yourself in Florida and have managed to graduate college.

You are now volunteering for a grief center that helps children who have been through similar situations. You are helping other children find ways to cope with their sadness and grief.

Your strength through the last fourteen years amazes me, sitting here thinking about it. You enjoy life to the fullest and your joy is contagious. You never let your situation dictate your life.

Yes, your mom dying definitely played a part in who you are now, but it does not define you or the last fourteen years. You will continue having holidays and festivities, but I know you are strong enough to handle them. I also know she will be a part of all those memories.  

Stay strong my 16-year-old self.

Anonymous

"Dear Me" to 9 year old Me

Dear Me Letter
The NAGC sent out a call for letters from those who experienced childhood breavement. The letters were to be written to their younger self and hopefully show today’s grieving children and teens that there is a brighter future ahead.

The following letter's author is anonymous. 


Dear 9 year old me,

You survived, you made it! Every thing inside me goes out to you, for the pain you had to endure, the emotions you locked up and buried and most importantly the childhood you lost.

I know it hurt to be the only kid at school who didn’t have a mum ‘cause you were. But know what, people didn’t know what to do with that. It’s them, not you.

No one, had the right to take grief from you- that sucked and it was unfair.

Your mother’s death has created a detour in your life, with a wide gaping hole full of emptiness and pain. But, know what- that detour, as horrible as it is- is okay. It will make you into a strong, resilient woman who doesn’t back off and who faces challenges and life head on. You will grow up to realize that being a misfit is a gift is disguise and you will become a person who refuses to follow the herd, who’s not afraid to be herself and to show up no matter what.

You did go to that first day of school after summer and when kids were sharing their summer stories- yours was the most dramatic. Let me tell you that although there will never be closure to what happened all these years ago you will be able to emerge. You will take all this pain and sorrow and learn from it, you will find in yourself so much love and you will share it with your child. And even though your mother isn’t mentioned much, you know that she lives on through you. You are allowed to grieve, you are allowed to feel resentment but you are also allowed to give yourself compassion and treat her with the grace she was denied. You will move on, you will be stronger and this detour doesn’t have to be a cloud that forever overshadows your life. You will also be able to find it in your heart to forgive all those who did you wrong.

You may always wonder how things would have been if your mother hadn’t died and that’s okay. But know that you’re also allowed to let go of all the “should haves”, “would haves” and “could haves”.

You’re allowed to be your beautiful, broken, work in progress self.

I love you.

Your 39 year old self.

Anonymous

"Dear Me" to 10 year old Bonnie

Dear Me Letter
The NAGC sent out a call for letters from those who experienced childhood breavement. The letters were to be written to their younger self and hopefully show today’s grieving children and teens that there is a brighter future ahead..

The following letter came to us from Bonnie Luna.


Dear 10 year old me,

I know you just lost your whole world but all I can say is, you and your siblings will be alright, I promise. You are so strong and you will get through Moms death with the help of counseling, dance, faith, family, friends, & prayer!

Grief is now the center of your whole life, and it will shape you to be the grown up you needed when you were 10. I can’t tell you that the hurt and pain you’re feeling deep inside ever goes away but I can tell you, it gets easier.

You’ll get scared because as each year passes you’ll start forgetting her laugh, her smell, and her smile, but that’s okay because you’ll NEVER forget the way she spread love and kindness like it was fairy dust.

And you too, will try your best to spread love and kindness. I know you’re trying your best to be mature & not break down for your younger siblings but stop, you’re only 10! Allow yourself to be a kid, you don’t have to keep it all together! It is not your job to be a mom now, no 10 year old is ready for that kind of responsibility.

You’ll get older and miss her at every huge milestone, but she’s there. You’ll feel her kind soul every minute. She’ll plant so many wonderful people in your life you never knew you needed. She’ll be there for your graduations, she’ll be there for your small wins, & she’ll even be there for the wedding you’re now planning. She’ll be there, trust me.

Her memory will never leave, you’ll see bits of Her in yourself and a lot in your siblings. You’ll be in your early 20s and finally be able to talk about her without sadness, but with joy! You’ll still get together for her birthday every October and laugh about the cherished memories you have.

Lastly remember she’d want you to be so incredibly happy. So do those things that fill your soul! Never stop working with kids - they bring you more joy than you’ll be able to fathom. Go on those trips, leave the nest( your siblings will be just fine without you) Have the big wedding, it’s okay to smile and celebrate happiness after her. And stop worrying SO much about you’re siblings, they have the same incredible guardian angel you do, they’ll be alright.

Sincerely,

Me

"Dear Me" to 17 year old Jill

Dear Me Letter
The NAGC sent out a call for letters from those who experienced childhood breavement. The letters were to be written to their younger self and hopefully show today’s grieving children and teens that there is a brighter future ahead..

The following letter came to us from Jill Kottmeier.


Dear 17 year old me,

I know that sometimes it feels like life is spinning out of control. You have had to say goodbye to 2 of your friends by senior year, and then your world was rocked by the death of Kaleb, one of your best friends baby.

I know you feel lost, you are not religious and you are seeking answers and support from something bigger than yourself.

You feel so alone, like no one in the world understands your grief. You remember special days and events, and your parents don't talk to you about you. You don't know what is normal and what is not.

It is ok to feel what you are feeling. It is grief. It will be part of you forever. It changes and it flows, sometimes it is too intense to bear and other times it calms down. But it is a part of you now. You are forever changed by the experience.

People say stupid things to you about your grief, even those who love you. Try not to take your dad's comments to heart about the photos of Kaleb and decorating his grave. It is his ignorance of the situation, it is not that he doesn't love you. He doesn't understand the death of a baby. Really no body does. Stick with Becki, she will be a lifelong friend and teacher.

One amazing thing is going to come out of all the grief you experienced as a teen. Your passion for helping others through grief, especially baby loss, will become a career. You will go on to become a labor and delivery nurse and help countless families going through the hardest times in their lives. Kaleb is one of your greatest teachers and inspirations in your life. You will continue to honor him and Becki through your work and land your dream job, Perinatal Palliative Care Coordinator.

You don't fully understand this right now, but the grief you are experiencing in high school is preparing you for things that lie ahead that might seem unimaginable. You will have to say goodbye to more friends, and your life will be forever changed after you bury your cousin, your father, and your brother. You have more resilience inside you than you could ever imagine. You will need to rely on that to get you through. The death of your brother will come just 6 months after your divorce. I promise you, you will get through it and you will find happiness again.

Lean on those who love you the most and accept help. All of your loss makes you who you are. It gives you new perspective to help other people and be there for them. Just remember your grief can bubble to the surface at any moment. Even when you think you have made it out to the other side, it is there. Acknowledge your grief, let it sit with you, cry, scream, feel it throughout every part of your body, become friends with it...that is what leads to healing.

Love,

Your 41 year old self