Dear Grieving Siblings,
You resilient souls, innocent little empaths. We are so sorry that you know grief. We loathe that you have endured the death of your brother or sister. Some of you have never met your best friend. Some of you held “your baby” in your arms or read them a book every night for a few months. Others for a few years.
Some of you may have lost your big sister, the second mother of the family, the crazed teen so close to their future. All of you are hurting. We know that you had plans and long for grand adventures and fantastical times with Bubba or Sissy. We wanted that for you too. So much.
We know that you miss “the way it was”, even if you only know your brother or sister as a “once upon a time”.
We hate that the death of your sibling means the loss of your innocence, the loss of some of your friends, and sometimes your parents even seem distant.
We know you have a need to heal your hurts, and we want to help. We want to help, but the key to healing lies within yourself, and you guys instinctively know that. What you may not know, grieving children, is you all are helping us. We are watching you closely as you silently teach us the ways of healing. We see you, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews. You are our guides, our parents in grief. We are learning to follow your lead, learning to heal.
We see you heal through play.
You have taught us to have fun and play. To enjoy each fun-filled moment and even embrace the tear stained, painful times. You play, you fall, you get back up. We love to fix your hurts when needed, to apply a physical or emotional band-aid. Thank you for trusting us to care for you. You remind us that it is just as important to accept care as it is to give care. You inspire us to get up and keep going, to push through even when we want to quit because the boo-boo hurts so deeply. You remind us to strengthen our hearts, bodies, and minds with activity and heal through play.
We see you heal through connection.
Thank you for grabbing your friends by the hands and inviting them to join you on your life adventures. We are inspired to do the same. We see your empathy, encouragement, and bravery. You are courageous enough to listen with empathy and speak with intent. You can connect without words, and can forge a friendship upon discovery of just one similarity between yourself and another. Thank you for flocking to the hurting, the isolated, the lost. We see you connecting with loved ones, with strangers, and are reminded of this natural need to share and to heal through connection.
We see you heal through inclusivity.
You are the masters of making memories with the loved ones of today, while remembering the love ones of the past. Thank you for including your brother or sister, even when they may otherwise be marginalized. Thank you for saving their seat, their space. Thank you for speaking their name, for including them in the family drawing. You see their presence within their absence. You are the keepers of their spirit. Their brother. Their sister, and your unconditional love and thoughtfulness encourage us to heal through inclusivity.
We see you heal through creativity.
You are all so unique, so beautiful, so special. You remind us to believe in the unseen. To be free and uninhibited. To explore in nature, and search for the beauty and magic in life. You make us want to learn more, to discover more, to live more. You guys inspire us to use our imaginations and combat the stifling effects of grief as we heal through creativity.
We see you heal through emotions.
You are willing to share your heart, your emotions. Somehow you know that feeling bad is good. You realize that you must succumb to the sadness to overcome and find joy. You search for happiness. You know to acknowledge and accept the anger. You love. You feel more anger. You forgive. You cry. You throw a tantrum. You get it out. You express your feelings and model how to heal through emotional expression.
We see you heal through choice.
You already know that life is full of choices. We taught you that. Now you know that sometimes you don’t have a choice. Life taught you that. Thank you for choosing to love life, even when so deeply affected by death. Thank you for finding hope in grief, and how to heal through choice.
Thank you, children, for teaching us how to grieve, how to live, and how to heal.
Ginny Limer is a mother of five, teacher, and adventurer from Fort Worth, Texas. She founded Scared Sidless, a 501(c)3 nonprofit in order to support bereaved families, unite grieving siblings, and promote a lifestyle of creative, healthy grieving. Just as you exhale grief, Ginny encourages you to inhale hope.