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 Frannie
Dear Me (at 7),
It has been exactly 40 years since your father died. I bet you didn’t think you would have survived? I am sure you didn’t think his death would impact your entire life. I know you spent many nights crying before bed, wishing your surviving parent would notice and try to comfort you. I know you struggled to pay attention in school because your school days were better spent day dreaming about him than learning. I know you felt different throughout your entire school years; not knowing anyone else who experienced the death of a parent can be lonely. I know you learned talking to him was a comfort to you and doing this quietly did not draw too much attention to yourself.
Your healing occurred slowly and without community resources, nothing existed during the 80’s or 90’s in your neck of the woods. You were able to move yourself through the process, and yes, at times you had to stop and rest, even pretending it didn’t happen.
I remember one time you created a story of his leaving the country as a reason he was not in your life because death was just too final. The problem with that, as you soon realized, is that it wasn’t helpful because he never came home. Those stories served to make the time go by and offered you some strength to grieve on your own because no one paid attention or knew how to identify or even support grieving children/teens.
Grief was with you always and if you had been given the opportunity to grieve sooner, maybe things would’ve been different…or maybe not? The college years seem to be the time that you learned about grief and its impact on you. During that time you were able to reflect and understand the impact of not being able to speak of your father openly for a number of years because it “upset your step father” and didn’t “fit” with this new family life.
I am sorry you didn’t have the support that you now provide to others. Your commitment to other grieving families in your community has been beneficial to those bereaved. It saddens me that you kept your grief isolated from others all that time, but you survived. Eventually, you did learn how to catch up mourning. The universe put loving people in your life, and they were able to give you what it is said you give to others – a compassionate listening ear and simple care and concern. These life angels never judged or made attempts to stop your grief process; therefore, you were able to heal. Yes, we know the emotional pain has subsided, but grief bursts do occur on occasion.
Although I know you still wonder how life could be different for you if your dad had lived, you understand this to be a part of your grief. With all the pain and lack of resources at that time, you did find your own support. Finding that helped mold you into who you are both personally and professionally. Had you not experienced any of this, I don’t think you would be what you are today, a Grief Therapist, serving other bereaved children, teens and families in both individual and group settings. I know you enjoy your life, continue doing what you love.
All my love,