Hey little one, your grief can be here. Sit beside me. Your sadness roars like a rushing river – loud, flowing, scary. It swirls and surges. Sometimes it pulls me along. I let it carry me with you. I don’t feel that terrible pain you feel. But I feel you.
I see when it’s anger. You stomp and grunt and make blustery sounds, irksome and irritating and full of rage.
I see when it’s darkness and you hide. Under the table. Behind your defiance. Beside your very large silence.
I see when it’s confusion. Your tired eyes speak of anxious nights far from sleep.
I see when you shine, giddy with relief when something distracts you and pulls you away. There is room for happiness too, of course.
Oh little one, I can only give to you. I can’t take it away. This grief is yours to carry.
I give you books to devour. Papers to rip. Walls to push. Staircases to race with me. As we run, you chase the heavy feelings away. For a while.
I give you space and calm. Patience and my hand. I forgive you when you stand close to me after hours of explosions. No need for words. It’s over for today.
I give you stories where you can see yourself. We read them together and let the images wash over us like a huge wave that soaks us and then slowly recedes back to the sea. I read them aloud and then leave them with you. Other children reside in those pages. They too feel your anger and pain and sorrow. Like you, they try to protect memories. They search for a way to hold them pure and safe against the inevitable fading.
I watch you as you find yourself in the angry eyes of that little boy who wonders why all those other children can walk hand and hand with their mothers just like he once did with his. I speak it for you when you think you shouldn’t. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. It feels so wrong. You are lighter after these books, not darker. Meeting the truth, nestling into it, gives us some temporary peace.
So little one, grieve here. Grieve loud. And soft. And bravely. I know it’s now because it wasn’t when. I know it’s ugly because it hurts so much. I also know that in small moments, it might be beautiful. When a memory comes along with a smile. Tell me about her dark hair. What she called you. Those words she said. These things are yours. Say them out loud and they become stronger. I want to hear.
Now little one, feel safe. I don’t judge your unexpected ways. Grief has no road map. So little and so alone, your path is especially treacherous. You have moved past the land of sad and stunned. You no longer live in a world of quiet and compliant. You have reached the place where this grief floods all that you are. It pulls and pushes. Sometimes you fight it. Sometimes you sit and refuse to move. Sometimes you kick everything in sight.
You are in it. It is the boat you must steer to shore. I imagine you there floating in the rocky waves. Shrieking back at the squawking sea birds. Watching day become night and night become day.
Sometimes, I cry because I know you don’t. Little one, little grieving girl, I am here.
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.
Wow. I am in awe.
Thanks for reading Barbara
This piece is a beautiful combination of heartache and hope. So incredibly sad to see a child living through tragedy, so promising that there are people like you in her life to carry her through her grief. Thanks for sharing–this was an amazing read.
There is lots of sad on this journey.
You’ve captured a beautiful story in your post. Praying that girl grieving makes it through this difficult time-hopefully because you’re part of the healing process!
I know there is lots ahead but yes, hoping she is gathering strength. She is an incredible child.
Oh! My heart aches for this precious child….and it soars that she has you in her life.
Thank you for sharing so beautifully the complicated layers of not only grief, but the art of supporting those grieving.
Thank you for noticing that grief impacts on so many levels and so many people.
This is so sadly beautiful.
Yes. The day to day of it is just that.
I will be praying for peace for this little girl, and for you as you support her. This was beautifully written. There is so much to grieving, and you have captured it.
Many thanks Kendra. I am just bearing witness.
One of my students lost her mother last year. I taught her then, too, and your post captures the waves we’ve ridden together. I wrote a short story I’d like to share with you on Google docs. It is based on my student’s grief, but maybe yours can find herself in it too. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1x3gwjSPB_Wo_qJcBzrj73bDLSWX-ofzKRUNHT_seHqA/edit?usp=sharing
Thank you so much for sharing this. So many of us have these children in our lives. And we need to respond.
Life hurts little ones and they don’t understand. We don’t understand. Thankful that she has a teacher who understands her. Such sadness should not be in one so young’s life. Beautifully written.
But it so often is. It is hard to watch all that sad. We can only sit beside and be there.
I read this with tears in my eyes. Thank you for holding space for your student to grieve. You inspire me to be a more compassionate human.
Thank you Holly. It is truly holding space.
“feel safe. I don’t judge your unexpected ways. Grief has no road map”. All these things, that “feel safe” do help, but you’re right, there is no road map, no way to take the feelings away. I went through a year with a young girl, (13) whose father was dying, and then he did. She didn’t want to talk, she did want to talk, she hated everyone, she loved everyone. There was a part of me that knew I was the escape, because she fought constantly with her dad, so, so angry. This is beautiful, Carrie, and really should be shared with all teachers, who may have that “little girl” someday.
Many thanks Linda. Thank you for knowing and sharing your experiences.
We all have these children in our rooms, sometimes more than one at a time. Thank you for writing this heartfelt post, Carrie, for us…and especiallly for those children.
So true. So many children experience grief and we need to be prepared.
You have done a great job of capturing what we all do with the students in our room and how we ache for them when they are grieving or going through a rough patch. Well done on putting it into words.
This is such a beautiful and impactful piece. Thank you for those words we’ve all felt just couldn’t articulate in the midst of seeing our little ones face such turmoil.
Thank you. Expressing this has helped me to process.
If only every child in trauma had teachers as aware and understanding as you.
Thank you Wendy.
You have captured so much.
It is a lot, everyday. Incredibly sad and incredibly brave this little one.
beautiful, love the line- I feel you I can feel your heart in that line
Beautiful. You capture perfectly what anyone experiencing trauma needs – time, space, respect, and compassion. What a lucky little girl to have you in her life, helping her navigate her darkest time.
So many things you are right when trauma is experienced.
You are an incredible teacher to this little girl. I feel such pain thinking of the pain she is feeling.
Some days it is really hard to watch. But, I feel her strength and it is an honour to learn from her.
She is so lucky to have you! I love the kindness and understanding with which you wrote this post. I love that you see so much about her. I have a lot of students who have been through really tough stuff too, so I know exactly how you feel when you are with her.
We are blessed in this career to have children show us so much.
My heart aches for this little one. Your description pulled me in and made me feel like I was walking through this in your shoes. I think she’s lucky to have someone like you for a teacher, someone who obviously understands her.
Thank you for sharing in this with me Robin.
Children can be dealing with so much but we can be that place where they fight back. Thank you for sharing the beautiful way you are supporting your students’ needs.
Thank you for this really wise comment.
What a beautiful post…so heartfelt. I am hoping that this little one will heal from her pain and am grateful that she has you to help her through.
Thank you Julie.
Such a strong, beautifully written piece. It captured my heart as I read it,–twice. The first to absorb the meaning, the second because of how marvelously you put the words and phrases together to create such strong emotional responses and pictures. God has given this child to you for this season. You are loving her well. I will be praying for you both.
Honoured that you read it twice. Thank you for your kind words.
Carrie, the depth of your words is an outreach to all of us who have witnessed grief in others’ eyes. This post is wonderful!
What a gift this is…I know already who else needs to read it. Thank you for your words. They hold so much truth.
I am so honoured this is helpful to you.
Oh my what a beautiful post. While it is sad to read, you dealt with the grief in a wonderful way.
One day at a time. The only way we can.
Brokenhearted and buoyed at once. Thank you. xx
Thank you Amy. That is pretty much how I feel everyday going through this.