Over 45 years ago my mother died of lung cancer. Even though from the very moment of her diagnosis she was terminal — no one told the 12 year old me. All the adults in my world assured me she would recover. In a few months — when she was taken to the hospital for her final admission — I overheard a conversation between my older sister and my father and the word ‘terminal’ was finally said out loud. Everyone was sworn to secrecy so that my mother ‘wouldn’t know’ she was dying.
I learned a lot from my family’s behavior. Mostly I learned that adults lie about the important stuff. And all you wrote is spot on.
I did not have the luxury of a support network or the ability to grieve for countless years. In my 40s long after the birth of my own children I eventually began unwrapping my grief with an excellent therapist.
I became a nurse — naturally enough. All caregivers have a traumatic background if you dig deep enough.
My friends blame my tendency to be brutally honest on my zodiac sign — but in truth — it’s a knee jerk reaction to this lie. This very massive lie which I never quite got past.
Thank you for the work you do with the children who grieve. They need to know there are people out there who are their safety net when their world crashes in on them.