2023 DMK Weekly Reflection

What does it take to survive loss and grief?

When I was a child, I watched a popular show about a little prairie girl, who grew up to be a mother, teacher and author. Her name was Laura Ingalls Wilder and the show was "Little House on the Prairie".  

There was a particular episode where Laura, nicknamed Half-Pint, ran away from home following the tragedy of the death of her baby brother, Charles Jr., shortly after he was born. The entire family was mourning the loss of Charles, Jr, the son Pa had always wanted. Before the infant passed away of illness, Laura felt particularly jealous and feared Pa was replacing her with the son she could never be. Until Charles Jr., Laura was as close as a scrappy little boy as Pa could want. But after baby Charles was born, in Laura's eyes, all Pa talked about was her new baby brother. Pa and Ma were particularly preoccupied thru-out the infant's illness. Upon the passing of baby Charles, Ma and Pa were caught up in their grief and, for obvious reasons, were not aware of all that Laura was feeling.

Laura felt particularly sad because she secretly felt non-sympathetic as the infant grew ill and felt guilt stricken that somehow her feelings towards the infant caused the child to perish. She ran away to the mountains where she met an old man who helped her see that God would not take her brother because she was jealous. He helped her heal from her grief and sadness.

Meanwhile, Pa and Ma were overcome with the fear that great harm would come to Laura and the worse fear included the possibility that they would lose another child. While the episode may not have included all the emotions and fears that rushed the parents, it's clear that when a tragedy happens in our life, we may rightfully lose sight of the goodness still in our life.

In the end of the episode, Laura was found on the mountain, she was well cared for and while evidence indicated she could not have survived without divine intervention, no other person was ever found. Ma and Pa undoubtedly would never forget the loss of baby Charles, but the miracle that Laura was alive and safe gave them hope and furthered the entire family's healing process.

While they would not have chosen Laura to run away and be in danger; the situation illuminated the notion that in times of loss, the darkness in our life seems to overshadow the light of all that we still have and hold true to our hearts. While the reasons for the darkness are righteous and our feelings are real, allowing such an opportunity to see the entire perspective may allow for a smoother transition period and family healing.

You and your family need not go to the mountains to seek help from the angels above to understand the power of forgiveness, love and empathy. Such power is like everyday divine intervention when you open the door to communicate with those you love and love you. Being the help others need can provide help for you as well!

Nor may we ever get back what we fear we may have lost, like Laura's disappearance forced her parents worst fears, since we may never know such a situation following life tragedies or setbacks like the one in this episode.

More likely, we may experience our children and other family members slowly slip out of our lives as we dwell for years in the shadows of our pain. Regardless if the pain is from divorce, setbacks or the loss of a loved one, don't wait for additional fears to awaken you. Heal, but heal openly and deliberately, together as a family. Let your children know you understand, they too, feel grief and sadness. Recognizing their feelings allows them to express themselves in productive ways to expel their grief. Talk to each other, listen to each other and be patient with one another. The grieving process takes time. Allow yourself and family time to heal and survive the difficult times you experienced as a family. This will bring the light back into you and your family's life!