The NAGC sent out a call for letters from those who experienced childhood breavement. The letters were to hopefully show today’s grieving children and teens that there is a brighter future ahead..
The following letter came to us from the staff at The Dougy Center.
This letter is a compilation from the staff at The Dougy Center to their younger grieving selves…
We hate that this happened to you. Nothing will ever make it okay that it happened - and - you will be okay. Even when it feels like everything is wrong and messed up and ruined, you’re still okay. Are people telling you how to feel? It happens. Some people will worry that you don’t show enough emotion, others will worry that you show too much, but you know you are just you… the you who is figuring it out. The you who is making it through another day. The you with all the feelings and thoughts that come with grief. Just be you - even if you don’t know exactly who you are some days. When you’re overrun with other people’s opinions, try to remember everyone grieves differently. There’s a good chance you might find their way of grieving to be frustrating, maddening, or concerning, but be patient with yourself and others. Try not to compare yourself to your siblings or the adults around you because each person grieves in the way that is right for them.
Here’s the secret about grief no one tells you: You can be strong & okay and still have big feelings that seem overwhelming. Having big feelings doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you or you’re doing grief wrong. You are totally normal if you feel sad, happy, guilty, tired, angry, relieved, anxious, confused, short-tempered… and just about any other feeling under the sun (or none of those feelings). There’s no right way to grieve, and no one way that grief should or does feel.
So, if it’s okay and normal to feel like a confused mess, what can you do to help when that mess feels like too much? Grief can be very lonely but try to remember you aren’t alone. It may feel that way sometimes… or a lot of the time… but there are more people supporting you than you will ever realize. There will likely be times when your feelings tumble over each other like a pile of unruly puppies - when that happens, take a moment (or 10) to hang out with them. Find a person or place that allows you say hello to and express those feelings. Seek out people who feel safe and accepting. If they start a sentence with “Don’t feel that way” or “At least you’re still...” or “You’re overreacting,” look for someone else to talk to!
What else can you do? Ask people about your person who died, they have stories that will help you know them even better than you already do. Some of those stories will make you laugh, some will make you cry, and some might make you mad that you didn’t get to do those things with the person. When you have time and if it feels okay, imagine what you would be doing and talking about with your person if you did get to do those things.
Two last suggestions - take them or leave them because unsolicited advice can feel less than helpful:
- Be good to your body - sleep when you can, eat things that are nutritious, drink water, and move around. Bonus if you find some way of moving that helps you focus and gives you a break from the heartbreak. Remember how much you love to shoot hoops?
- What still makes you laugh and feel excited? Do more of that!
Okay younger self, we need to sign off, but we are here, thinking of you, and sending love and support through the airwaves. You’ve got this. We know your heart, it is strong and kind. Don’t forget to save some of that kindness for yourself.
Your older, but not that old, self,
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 future ahead..
The following letter came to us from Meredith.
Dear Seventeen-year-old Meredith,
This is you in 2018. I would tell you that this is similar to how Dwight got faxes from himself in the future, but you haven’t started watching The Office yet.
This is me reaching out (or back) to you to give you a heads up on grief. Yes, you have grieved the losses of most of your grandparents by now. You got through that by doing temporary crazy things to your hair.
If you’re reading this, then I am assuming that May 25th, 2008 has already passed… and you are hurting. Bad.
Right now, things suck. You are probably still finding glass in your feet and hands from the accident (it’s going to take about a month for the stinging in your feet and hands to stop.) You might have gone back to school to finish up the year. If you are back at school, you have probably started skipping History because the teacher called you out for crying in class.
You have probably also experienced the stares from others that want to know more about what happened. You have also received more hugs than you are physically comfortable with (yes we still hate hugs in the future). Also, I know you are consistently thinking “why wasn’t it me” and are replaying that moment of her calling “shot gun” before getting in the car over and over.
You have also heard people say that they wish it was you instead of her, and that only makes the guilt worse.
I want to tell you that you are going to get through this. And I’m going to tell you how.
Music saves your life. You will be turning 18, and it will open so many possibilities. You are going to get an offer that you will not want to turn down. I won’t give any spoilers, but it involves you traveling away from that gossipy town, and hanging with your music idols for an entire Summer. This is going to save your life, so DO IT. Yes, mom and dad are on board with a lot of persuasion. I would also advise staying off Facebook and Myspace, plus you will be too busy to check anyways.
I also want to give you a heads up on things that are going to suck. History isn’t going to get better. Talk to mom and your advisory counselor and make arrangements to take the final early.
Also, the “mandatory grief counseling” at school is awful. It’s going to turn into a talk show where you are interviewed by everyone asking what happened. You will probably say some really profane things towards one specific person…. Worth it. The good news is that your advisory counselor gets you out of that situation fast.
Also, no one is willing to cover your shifts at work. You will cry at work often, so do yourself a favor and invest in waterproof makeup and carry tissues in your apron. Your GM finally sees how this is affecting you, and will let you go on leave.
Your car rides in the morning have also added 20 minutes to your commute time to school. This is so so crucial. Any time you drive by the crash site, you can’t breathe. So take the extra 20 minutes to take the back way to school and to work.
I hope you listen to you, and do these things. It’s going to suck for a long time. I can’t really give you a time of when things seemed better, but I can tell you that there were many good days.
You enjoy the big school events, you go to college, and you use this experience to help you when other rough situations come up.
Now in 2018, it’s been 10 years since they died. You are compassionate towards their families, and send flowers every year. You go into a career that you probably never imagined that you would do, and you love it. There are still days when it hurts, but you will have ways of taking care of yourself when things get hard. For now, go easy on yourself and stop listening to what other people say.
You’re going to get through this, and things will be okay.