Friday, July 15, 2011

how to help a daughter grieve

It's Friday and on these days I am reminded to let go of the perfection-seeking. Just. Write.

Usually these days are reserved for Five Minutes of pure writing. Today, is a bit different. I woke up at 4:30 and decided to get right up. I've been soaking up this time, watching the sunrise and just reflecting.

As the Son and I watched the sky illuminate with brilliance this morning, I thought of the journey my sister is on these days. 

She's venturing from the place that has awkwardly-sometimes become her Home, and she'll live without her family close-by. College days will be her new norm and I can only imagine her fears weaved with excitement. She leaves another country that has become a part of her, and she envelopes where she came from. Bags packed she'll be on her own now--scared and excited all at once. 

I have always felt a closeness with this girl--my sister--though, we hardly seem like Family. We share the same father and that similarity always makes me wonder if it's the very reason I feel so removed from her life, yet the very reason I even know her. 

After my own journal-jotting and gratitude-giving, I visited The Gypsy Mama's place; my heart felt at Home. I need to write like Lisa-Jo did today--for more than five minutes. She's been at Home this week, visiting where her heart tugs. And it feels Divine for me. Lisa-Jo invites me to share just what this morning's thoughts have sifted.

And so I write this--for my father...on grief and Home...relationships and life...


You prepare your heart to send her away, knowing she will likely never live with you again. Her days are her own now and try as you might to stay connected, she has wings and will fly.

She needs you to let go.
She needs you to stay.

Depending on her isn't fair. You're her daddy and she needs to know that you still care about her. She needs to know that you think about her. Show her you care about her world by pulling up a chair and listening--stay connected. Skype, e-mail, texting, phone calls. These days it's easier and just because you're a world away doesn't mean you can't, or even that you shouldn't.

She will press forward and live. In confusion, excitement, timidity and glee, she will discover and delight  people so different, yet so similar. She needs to know you'll still be there. 

Her world will change and she will grieve. Her perspective of you will prepare her for parenting her own, and everything you do to show her you care will give her confidence and peace. Give her comfort and grace. 

This is what living is about--preparing and letting go. You've provided, coached, loved, guided, and released.

Yet, don't release too much.

You have one daughter who felt the sadness over too much letting go. She grieved from two to tween to teen to thirty. Her heart always missed what she never really had. Too much responsibility for the relationship was placed on her and the weight was too heavy to bear, and she dropped it all. That daughter lives her own days now and feels a sadness with each breath over what could have been and still hasn't yet become.

So, when you stay connected with your other daughter--the one who you know well and raised fully--don't just send her notes with Bible verses to guide her way. Be there for her, in her world, even while you're in yours. She needs to know you care. And she needs to know her world is still important.

She's shifting from one world to another and she'll change along the way.

Tell her she is beautiful and let her question her worth. Don't just look the other way and call a prayer group together if she seems to go another way. Remember how you've felt once or twice in your own living.  

Don't let your grief make her feel guilty. She needs to know you miss her, but don't let her knowing hold her back from enjoying and discovering.

Let her find her way. 
Let her discover. 
Let her connect. 
Let her live. 

She isn't a by-product of you, and your worth isn't the sum of who she becomes. Give you both the freedom to be different and appreciate those differences. Learn from each other.

Her heart will always find its way back to wherever you are. Just let her live in the space of Today. Let her Home change.

Two countries, two close siblings and one removed, she ventures out. Her grief will be deep and her fears profound. This is her story. Let her live it. Give her grace. Give her love. And, give her permission to soar--her way. 


  1. Lovely post. Thank you for sharing this today. Blessings, friend.

  2. Beautiful post. I loved this "This is what living is about--preparing and letting go. You've provided, coached, loved, guided, and released." Very nice!

  3. Glad I stopped by to read your wise words...we are looking into colleges for our daughter and oh how the memories stir up... Thoughts of excitement watching her grow and spreading her wings...wanting to be there yet letting her go!
    Thank you...Blessings to you and your family.

  4. "This is her story.." Yes, each of us has to forge our own, and allow our sons and daughters theirs, too. The advice you give to the father is tough, but truth. Thanks for sharing so deeply.