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Her Real Name is Grief

“I sat with my anger long enough, until she told me her real name was grief.”


Recently, in our family, we have had some social issues. With the looming anxiety of the global pandemic, adding another layer of grief and anxiety only compounds how helpless we all feel.

Both of my surviving children have had grief counseling and we have also been in family therapy. Having crossed the Ts and dotted the Is, I guess I became complacent and thought everything was ok.

Both of my surviving children are smart, kind, generous, empathetic, funny, creative and dramatic. My youngest has a quick temper and can be very sarcastic. These two traits of hers really did not surface until about a year after Shelby’s (my oldest child, their brother) death of an accidental fentanyl overdose.

In the past couple of months my youngest (daughter) has been having issues with certain friends. In fact, I was told by one friend’s mother that my daughter was “the meanest child” she’s ever seen. Those words sliced me to my core. I cried all night because it hurt so bad to know someone actually feels that way about my daughter.

(This family knows about the death in our family and I understand they have no idea how this type of grief feels.)

If my child is acting negative in any type of way, if it is brought to my attention, I will do my best to rectify the situation. I do not expect anyone to excuse my child’s behavior, but I would hope for some kindness and understanding.

We will be going back into therapy, but if I could make others see what I see, I’d want them to see that my child is not mean. She is in mourning, and will be for the rest of her days. My youngest will have to continually process her grief throughout her lifetime. As she grows, evolves and matures, so does her grief. Every time she reaches a milestone, her grief is right by her side, ready to be processed. If she does not process it, it will come out in negative ways that will impact others. My daughter doesn’t fully grasp that whole concept, yet, because she is only nine years old. It is up to her father and me to make sure we keep her on the healthy path, emotionally and physically, all the while processing our continual grief and doing the same for our other surviving child.

Here are a couple insightful pieces on child sibling grief and a blog post about how grief is a secondary emotion:

It’s OK to get help!

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