Navigating Relationships Between Childhood Friendships and Grief

Childhood can be a tricky thing for growing little humans.  Finding where you fit in, figuring out your personality and who you want to be, how to act and learning what to say, can be challenging to say the least.  Add a bit of grief or struggle on top and a child’s world is compounded immensely.

Having four children sprinkled through elementary and middle school, this is something that has laid heavily on my heart lately as I have observed my children navigate through the tangled web of friendships in their schools.  

Finding the true definitions of a friend has been a challenge for them. They have experimented with learning lessons the hard way by hurt feelings, being excluded from games on the playgrounds, pushed down, being told to “leave, you’re not wanted here,” to “I’m not supposed to talk to you,” among many others.

It’s rough. All kidding aside, the last thing any parent wants is to have their child being treated terribly arriving home after school with tears in their eyes. It opens your heart to places you never felt, having these innocent beings reliant on you to provide comfort and understanding when you have none.

 Yes, it  tears at the tender heart deep down. I wish I could protect them from such pain.

No one wishes for their children to be ostracized by their peers.  Thankfully, my kids are resilient.  They are real, honest, kind-hearted and strong.  I am so proud of each and every one of them. 

Don’t get me wrong, they each have their moments of irresponsibility, speaking without thinking, or rudeness that needs corrected, among many other undesirable traits. Outnumbered, they’ve at times made me think I will never survive the four of them with all the joking, fighting, yelling and craziness my sweet darlings provide.  Yet despite it all, I can say I am truly proud of the individuals they are becoming.

I work extremely hard to try to instill the proper values in their expanding minds. So far, my monsters are well rounded, compassionate kids with big hearts, willing to help anyone out.  

They don’t care what anyone dresses like.  On any normal day, you will find my kiddos in hand me downs, prized apparel acquired at yard sales and thrift shops.  Their second-hand shoes and mismatched socks make them who they are.  Thankfully, they don’t pay attention to what people wear or feel inadequate to be lured into comparison.       

They don’t discriminate based on social hierarchy, popular status, or appearances.  They don’t bat an eye to unruly hair or tattered clothing and remain joyful non-materialistic little people.

In our family, we just don’t have time for that.  A quick glance will reveal my little people frequently covered in dirt wearing stained shirts with chocolate faces. To some they may look like they just rolled off the wagon train, and that’s okay. 

Through it all, they remain confident in who God made them to be.

Our children have visited homeless shelters on many occasions and have observed life on the other side of the fence.  It has humbled them, yet opened their hearts to see children who are just like them, ignoring the different lifestyles while engaging in laughs and play with other children as if they’d been friends for years.

They look forward to saying their prayers every night together, they know what real pain and sorrow feel like.

They don’t judge based on gossip or rumors.  They don’t bully others attempting to outcast others from their circle of friends, even though others may have done this to them. 

It’s is my hope that they will always reciprocate and never take advantage of others. They are not fake, pretending to be someone’s friend one day and then the next day not knowing who they are. 

Fancy new cars, name brand clothes, economic status or living in a fancy house doesn’t apply to them.  They can mingle and mix with the best of them, joining hearts with all kinds.

My children have bloomed into compassionate hearts that are the first to console a hurting friend or to lend an ear if someone is sad. They are proficient in seeing broken hearts, observing their parents sorrow and unending love for their sister in heaven.

And you’ll find that our house is not immaculate. Sure, we do the basic house work but have found there is so much more to life than stressing about weather all the toys are picked up, or the floors swept and mopped daily.

They may not look or act like they have it all together, but inside they are perfectly fit. The puzzle pieces of their soul are connecting at just the right moments, fertilizing that growing heart.

You see, our family has learned the hard way, what really matters in life.  Years ago, we didn’t realize the value of what we had until it was suddenly taken away from us.   We’ve reached the lowest of the lows together and are slowly crawling our way back out.   One day at a time, 8 years and counting.

Enduring my young daughter’s tragic death was a slap in the face to the life I was living.   One thing grief has taught me, from being at my lowest point in life, was to be humble.  I was humbled by the simplicity of this life, humbled by the blessings God has given me.  Contentment and gratitude rose to the forefront of my reality.  And it not only taught me, but my children as well.

Lately, the uneasy feeling of grief and friendships has hit my family pretty hard.   Hurt feelings from people you thought were friends, who turned out have never heard of the golden rule or believe it doesn’t to apply to them.  Observing my children question someone’s harsh words, not understanding this fleshly world we live in-I struggle to find words to offer as an explanation.

However, I can say that having your heart torn open and shattered beyond belief, makes you appreciate the life you have, fuels you to live it with a purpose and passion like never before. It’s crazy to think of how our family may not have understood these valuable lessons had our daughter not passed away.

We all need to experience frequent reality checks and to treat others with love and kindness. Most importantly, we need to remember that it doesn’t matter what others think-we are all  equal and unique in God’s eyes, made for a special purpose and nothing can ever change that.

So I leave you with this heartwarming quote from Proverbs 31 Ministries to ponder….

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Navigating Relationships Between Childhood Friendships and Grief

  1. joelascott says:

    This is beautiful Daphne. Your outlook on life is so positive it can’t help but be passed along your readers. While I have not felt the tragedy of losing a child, I can only imagine what you and your family have gone through. I commend you for remaining positive and being so willing to share your story. Your words have given a voice to the voiceless.

    Thank you for that.

    • Daphne says:

      Hi Joel, I appreciate your uplifting comments and kindness. Slowly along this journey I am emerging into the person and life I was meant to live. I just visited your site and wow, your story reminded me so much of myself many many years ago. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Without a doubt you will be a catalyst to positive change in countless lives. Blessings along your journey!!

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