Parenting can never be described as easy, but parenting when your family is suffering after the death of a child is beyond difficult. Grief is everywhere, surrounding the family in all that they do. Simple tasks are suddenly not at all simple. In many ways, just getting up every day to get through the day is a huge accomplishment. Adding on the task of trying to raise children and guide them through their own grief seems almost impossible.
When Michele’s almost 7 year old son David died after a long battle with cancer, his 3 year old sister, Deanna, said something that affected Michele deeply. Deanna said, “Mommy, half of me is gone.” From the outside, Deanna played as other children played. She did not spend her days crying and staying in bed. Others likely thought she was doing ‘quite well’, but inside, she was grieving deeply. If she had not said that simple sentence, Michele would have likely not known that she even felt this way.
Given the fact that Michele had a background in early childhood education, she knew from that very moment that her mission in life would be to help Deanna grieve the death of her brother. At the same time that she worked through her own grief, she would learn about how to guide her daughter through her own grief as well. Someday, however, she hoped to use her knowledge to help other grieving children as well.
Now, many years later, Michele is doing just that. She started Good Grief Parenting in order to help parents and friends and family members who work with grieving children. Her goal is to help people learn that grieving is a good thing and not something to be avoided. Grieve openly with children and show them that you are a safe person to talk to about all of the messy emotions of grief. Sadness is ok; anger is ok, fear is ok, relief is ok. In fact, it is more than just ok; it is necessary to feel all of that in order to really understand and get through grief. These are lessons we can all learn and grow from as well.