Sad child with parent

When the Sadness Wouldn’t Let Go

Two weeks ago my daughter excitedly purchased something from the craft store. In less than two weeks however, it broke. She was devastated. This made for a difficult morning for her but she went on with her day, distracted by school and friends. That is, until she came home. Seeing the broken item sent her right back into a slump. She tried to distract herself with books and drawing and anything else she could think of. 

 Bedtime was particularly prolonged that night. About an hour after I had left the room, her little voice called to me. 

 “Mommy, do you have any tips to make the sadness go away” she asked tenderly. 

 “Is your sadness keeping you awake?” I asked.

“I’m tired and it won’t go away! I’ve tried counting backward. I’ve tried thinking about happy things. I’ve tried ignoring it and it still won’t let me sleep”. 

 “It sounds like you’ve tried so many things! it’s so frustrating when you want to sleep and you can’t. I wonder what would happen if we didn’t try to make the sadness go away? What if instead you just let yourself feel sad?”

 With that, she buried her head in my chest and cried. She cried all the tears that had been forced to stop when she left for school in the morning. She cried tears she had pushed away all day with friends. She cried tears she had tried to ignore while reading, playing, and ultimately trying to sleep.

 It only took a few minutes. When she calmed she said, “I think when we try to chase it away, the sadness just keeps following you around but if you hug it, it starts to get smaller and smaller”. 

 Meeting her with empathy and compassion and inviting that feeling in helped her to release what she had been pushing away all day. 

 

I was grateful in that moment to be able to hold space for her feelings. To remind her (and myself) that feelings need to be felt, not fixed. 

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