Letting Your Children See the Ugly Side of Loss

Sad And Upset Woman Deep In ThoughtLoss of any kind is painful.

If I were to round up a group of my closest girlfriends, we could literally spend hours cataloguing the combined losses in recent years. I bet you could too. If you are a mom, dealing with loss can be complicated. Because in the middle of our ugliest ugly, sometimes we’ve glanced to our side, or down the hall, or around the corner to discover our sweet children watching us—waiting to see if we’re all going to make it through.

Sometimes we’ve held it together despite how we felt. And sometimes we’ve taken part in what can only be described as a glorious meltdown. You know, the one where we’re crying so hard we can’t catch our breath, and we’re talking gibberish, and flailing our arms, and slimy things start flowing from our faces.

Just me? Ahem.

It’s during these bouts of uncontrollable anguish—where I’ve typically hidden in the basement, or the nearest closet, or even my car—that I’ve struggled deeply with this question:

Should we let our children see our pain?

And while my inclination is to say “Yes, of course. We’re not robots.” The reality is that I’ve been where they are. I’ve been that child watching my mother struggle through the loss of a marriage. Through the crushing reality that her dream for her family has been shattered. I’ve watched my mother suffer hopeless, while those around her left her to struggle alone. And it’s a heartbreaking thing to witness as a child.

Heartbreaking.

And, so I’ve hidden everything I can from my own children because I never forget the simple truth that they are also in pain from the same loss. And yet, I’m beginning to think I’ve been wrong on this point.

As I’ve been travelling down this path of single motherhood—the one I NEVER wanted to go down—I’ve decided to let my kids in on a little secret: their mother is human. Yeah, it’s hard to believe. I mean, I rock a mean pot of spaghetti and can blow through ten loads of laundry without breaking a sweat.

But loss? It turns out I’ve had enough of it in my life.

And hiding how I feel? Well, I guess I’m over that too.

Because more than the fact that I want them to know their mother is healthy, and that we are all going to be okay, I want them to know this:

In my struggle, I turned to God, and he carried me through it.

I want them to see that despite the pain, and heartache, and desperation they may feel in their lives—if they ever experience loss beyond what they think they can handle—they can turn to Him as well. And He will carry them through it.

2 Corinthians 4: 7 says,

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

I want them to remember that in the broken days when they worried for me, when they comforted me, that they were not alone. Because inside of me—and each of them—was the remaining flicker of a light, that pushed me forward toward healing. A power that came from God.

And that it’s a power that heals.

And it lives in them as well.

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. so well said. we certainly don’t want them to get the idea that we can handle it all because if we do they’ll never see their need for God! thank you for sharing!!

  2. I totally agree with where you landed. When we were going through our hell 2 years ago, we shared selectively but did not hide our pain and confusion. While I would not say that made faith easy for our kids, the older ones have told us it helped them to see us wrestling. Bless you!

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