A few days after Julian died, I had a conversation with a children’s minister about how children grieve. She explained that children relate to their grief like an object they keep in their pocket. From time to time they take it out, look at it, think about it, and then they put it back in their pocket.
Many people have asked me, “How is Oscar doing?” The answer is, he’s fine. Great, really. He has emotional moments from time to time, but for the most part, he’s as cheerful and happy as always. It’s a real blessing to us that Oscar is this way, because he keeps us motivated to feel happy too.
I think we can learn a lot from a typical child’s response to grief. It’s interesting to recognize that a child’s response is based on instinct rather than life experience. It’s also interesting to recognize the core difference between my grief and Oscar’s grief: I am grieving the loss of the future that I had planned, Oscar is not.
He misses his brother, but Oscar stays in the present. He sometimes takes grief out of his pocket, looks at it, maybe thinks something like “I wish Julian was here to play outside with me today.” But he’s certainly not thinking, “I’m sad because Julian won’t be my best man when I get married.” He might think that on his wedding day, but even then he will be grieving the present, not the future he expected.
There could be something helpful about visualizing grief as an object I can keep in my pocket. I can take it out, ponder it, grieve the present instead of the future I planned, design a new plan for the future, create my new normal. Then put it back into my pocket… not for the purposes of forgetting about it, but for the purpose of helping me focus on the present… until I take it out again.
I’d love to know who visits my blog, and I’d especially like to know if you have any thoughts or comments about it. If you’d like to post a comment or just let me know you were here, click the “Comment” link below to get access to a comment box and a “like” button. Just like on Facebook, you can “like” the post as a method of saying hi.
If you’d like to send me a private message, use the comment box but start with the word “Private.”