“Dear Me” to 15-year-old Becca

The NACG sent out a call for letters from those who experienced childhood bereavement. 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 Becca.

Dear Me,

You are going through a life-changing experience right now. You are no longer the same girl you used to be. You are also no longer like other 15-year-olds. You are going through a tragedy. And I am deeply sorry you are going through this pain right now. But I say this through years of hindsight; you are at the beginning of a new journey in life that will lead you to all around the world.

To be honest, I can’t remember a lot about the summer months after Mom died. I know there were lots of tears and an outreach of a variety of different people who never followed up. I know you will be hurt by family members who do not or cannot respect your new life and this will continue for many, many years. But there is always someone you can turn to whenever life gets hard and that’s Dad. Dad will be your rock. I have no idea how he found the strength to keep himself going, let alone how he found anything left to give me. He will encourage you in high school, he will go to every single pep rally, football game, and dance competition. Y’all will continue to show cattle in 4-H and continue to bond through hunting and fishing and all of your favorite activities. And in college and post-grad you will travel the world together as amazing travel partners. Your relationship with Dad is no longer the same. He is your Dad who provides excellent parental guidance but he is also your best friend who is your absolute number one fan. People will comment on your relationship and remark that if they had been in our situation they could not have done it and would have crumbled. You and Dad are so strong and you make each other stronger.

You’re beginning a lifelong introspective experience as well. Grief counseling and general counseling will become your new friend- don’t be afraid of it. Seek it out because it helps you so much. You will spend years going to counseling and that’s great and don’t resist it. It will help you figure out how to handle your family when they hurt you. It will happen. Counseling will help you realize how they have hurt you, that you are angry about it, and how to eventually forgive them in your own time and at your own pace.

College will be a rough transition. At this point, it will be the most transformative experience you go through after Mom died. It’s difficult because you not only learned how to survive after Mom died, you thrive because of how amazing Dad is and the work you put in at counseling to get there. Leaving that carefully cultivated environment will be difficult. But you need it. You need space to really find who you are. You will go through lots of changes in college and you’ll find great friends and no so great friends. But you will learn more about your Mom and the things that shaped her and how she shaped you in the time that y’all had.

You were always mature for your age but Mom dying will make you light-years older than your peers. It will make you more empathetic to others and will lead you to follow a passion of helping people, something Mom taught us how to do. Your world, even though it feels like it is crumbling around you, will grow exponentially. You are currently writing this from central London where you’re living while you are in law school. You have been all over the world and met all kinds of people. Always on a mission of helping people.

You are so strong. You will get through Mom dying with the help of dance, friends, music, school, travel, family, counseling, faith, and prayer. You will put in the work to get to know yourself and what you need to do to be successful. But the work you put in will not erase your grief. It won’t even stop it. You now have a new lifelong partner who will grow and change. As it does, you have to continue to take care of yourself. Grief is now a part of your life and it’s important to embrace it so you can grow from it and eventually become the person you needed when you were a lost, broken 15 year old.

I wish I could go through each moment step by step with you but I want you know you are strong enough to get through this, for it to not hold you back from life’s experiences, and to tell you that you still have a relationship with Mom. I know things did not end well at all between the two of you. I know the words you said and the way you acted that night will stay with you for years. But those things don’t define your relationship with Mom. The whole last year does not define your relationship. It will take counseling and time to be able to see that and talk about it with any kind of clarity. But none of it was your fault.

You are starting your new post-Mom life. Mom’s death will be a “before and after” marker for your life. But the ‘after’ will not be something that drags you down. You will see the world, you will fall in love, and you will find joy. Your grief will never go away but it will not define who you are as a person and what you do with your life. But I want to tell you, almost nine and a half years later, that you will be all right. You will be more than all right and Mom’s death will not hold you back in life even though that seems impossible right now. You are strong and there is so much the world is waiting to give you and you will get there even if you don’t think so right now.

Love always,

Future Becca