Grief Journey: Embracing Your Child’s Individuality


As a mama of three girls ages 6, 8 and 11, there’s a lot I’m still learning. In fact, every day is a wild journey of discovery about my girls and myself. One thing I do know for sure: we are all different.

That may sound obvious but it’s a big deal. It’s something I have to constantly remind myself as I navigate the waters of parenting. Each one of my girls is a masterpiece – uniquely wired and created by God.

It’s tempting to get caught up into what other people think about our kids – how they should look or behave or think or act. I have been that mom. It’s been a journey for me to learn how to celebrate each one of my girls and embrace their individuality.

I know that my oldest, Meilani, feels wholly alive when she has a book in hand. She loves all things related to the ocean. She’s also a planner. She loves to know what’s on the agenda for the week. She loves to set up her room for friends to come over and have every stuffed animal, every Lego creation in its place. I also know that my sweet girl sucks her bottom lip when she’s nervous or thinking hard.

I know that my middle daughter, Giada, is a snuggler. She thrives on hugs and cuzzling before bed. She’s a whiz at math and loves to be active. She loves gymnastics and running. She also loves to make new friends. She’s the girl you want with you on a long trip to a new place because she can win over any stranger.

I know that my youngest, Zayla, oozes joy and passion. She spends more time standing on her head than she does sitting right side up. She’s the puzzle master! She scrunches up her nose when she smiles and erupts with contagious giggles. She is independent, needing to buckle her own seat belt or serve her own dinner.

My girls are full of joy but they have also tasted pain. They watched their daddy as he was diagnosed with cancer. They stood by his bedside when his body was failing. They were with me at the grave when we celebrated his life. We anticipate seeing Daddy again in heaven one day and gaining a greater understanding for the heartache we endure.

As a family, we are learning how to grieve both individually and collectively. Recognizing that each of my daughters is unique proves important now more than ever.

My oldest doesn’t like to cry in front of people while my middle little needs someone to hold her close when those tears come. When my 6-year-old misses her daddy, she sings. They are all comforted by pictures on my phone and videos with his voice. 

They each have their own unique grief journey. It’s different from mine and other kids who have experienced something similar. These are all things I’m learning.

I believe part of our job as mamas is to lean in close, to listen to what our kids are telling us with words and body language, to get to know what pushes their buttons and what makes their hearts beat. I believe a large part of our job is to embrace their individuality and teach them to be themselves, bravely, in light of that. I believe it is important to create a safe space for my children to grieve and celebrate in their own ways.

 

**I’ve developed a FREE resource with “Tips for Navigating Grief with Kids.” I’m passionate about sharing my personal experiences and walking alongside readers on their grief journeys. Opt in here and I’ll deliver it straight to your inbox!

About Dorina Gilmore

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