June 30, 2017

Dealing with Grief as a Mom

I stood frozen in my living room shocked to hear that a student I loved was being taken off life support. I was stunned and heartbroken. I could not pull it together. I cried in front of all three of my kids throughout the day. It felt as if I was coming apart at the seams and I hated it ~ even felt guilty for it.

As I apologized for my tears, my kids asked me why I was apologizing. It's normal to cry when you lose someone, they reminded me. 

1. Our children need to see our tears, it lets them know crying is normal.

They were right but I wrestled with feeling ridiculous, narcissistic and weak. Tracing it back, I found somewhere along my life I'd picked up the belief that mothers shouldn't cry in front of their children. When I examined that thought, I realized I didn't want to hang onto it. I wouldn't expect that from any of my friends so why was I telling myself that lie?

2. We need others to help us process; we shouldn't do it alone.

Sharing tears with my kids and telling them some of my hurt felt healthy; but I didn't want to burden them too much with the full heaviness of my grief. So when my husband came home, I asked him to listen while I talked about my student and what she meant to me. He took my hand and listened. As I poured out stories about her, fluctuating between laughing and sobbing, I felt relief. Something inside lightened a bit.

A few days later, she died. My best friend called and asked me to come for coffee. She knew I was struggling and that it would be difficult. We sat and talked for hours about how we'd miss this young girl. I felt a bit lighter. I wasn't carrying the burden alone.

3. Be honest about what you need.

I ended up speaking at the funeral, giving a few remembrances. It was emotional but good. I felt empowered to be able to share stories and thoughts about this beautiful girl.

But afterwards, I was exhausted and hungry. I didn't really want to go home yet. My son was with me, a high-schooler, and I felt a bit silly asking, but knew I should be honest about what I needed. So I asked if he'd be willing to go eat with me at a place my student had told me to try. It was a place with vegan options and she was sure I'd love it. My son agreed and we went. Sitting in that restaurant felt like a connection with her, eating the food she knew I'd like and making her a part my life. It was beautiful closure on a difficult day.

Doing these three simple things allowed me to process grief in a way my children and others could help me with. Grief is part of life and our kids will know it soon enough. Letting them see how we deal with it can paint a picture for them of how they can deal with it too.

How have you dealt with grief in front of your children or others?


  1. This post made me teary, so precious. I agree, being real and honest about your grief and yet not putting a burden on family to fix it while also letting them see how you deal with grief. I love how you celebrated her life sharing with another friend and going somewhere after the funeral with your sweet boy, in the restaurant she suggested and how it was a sweet connection for you. <3

    1. Exactly! I was really glad to have something to DO afterwards and the connection felt like a good ending to that day.


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