“Truly, I say to you,
unless you turn and become like children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Imagine grief as a swimming pool. When it comes to grief, children walk up to the shallow end of the pool of grief and carefully dip their toes into the water for a moment and then run off to play. Adults run to the deep end of the pool of grief, dive in, and don’t come up for weeks, months and sometimes years.
I’ve witnessed this myself in the way Olivia grieves. It comes in spurts and as quickly as it comes, it goes. I envy her, really. It seems much healthier than the deep end of this pool of grief. But I’m learning to take my own moments of reprieve from the pain. For me it is reading (or right now catching up on Season 4 of Downton Abbey on Netflix). I get to leave my grief for a few moments of time and rest my heart, mind and soul.
I love the way children just say it as it is when it comes to grief. A few weeks after Mikail passed away we were in a restaurant and Olivia blurts out to the waitress “Did you know my brother died? He’s in heaven now.” Talk about awkward for the waitress. She didn’t know what to say.
Recently a little boy said to me: “You’re the lady who’s boy died, right?”
“Yes, I am.”
“And he’s in heaven now!”
“Yes. He’s in heaven with Jesus! Pretty cool, huh?”
“Yup!” and off he ran to put on Mikail’s batman costume and save the world from crocodiles!
My heart soared. He remembered. He acknowledged. He validated Mikail’s life, his death, and his home in heaven. He dipped his toes in the pool of grief and blessed me more than he will ever know.
Children aren’t afraid to say things the way they are. I love that. I wish us adults would be more like that. There are few people who will actually come out and ask the questions that are on their mind about Mikail’s death, how we found him, what happened afterwards, the grief, the pain, the joy, the sorrow. Those questions don’t scare me, but perhaps they scare the ‘asker’ because by asking they are allowing themselves to enter into our grief and that can be a scary vulnerable place. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and how Jesus commands us to become more like children. Not sure how that piece of scripture fits into this situation, but it’s made me think and wonder.
Kids are pretty smart, perhaps there is much to learn from them.