Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

Karate Sticker

Welcome Christmas. 

You snuck up behind that Turkey, why yes you did, all dancy and prancy with your Elf-on-the-Shelf and Christmas cheer. And now you are here, all lit and glittery. You are here. 

And what to do with you. And where to spend my energy with you. 

Yesterday, I volunteered at Children’s Hospital with the Bereavement Program. They organize an evening for families in their first year of loss. Families are asked to make luminaries in memory of their child.  

I came early. As I laid out chocolate cupcakes with Santa faces, I talked to the Children’s Pastor, who I like quite a lot. 

“Now Bob, I’m not going to cry am I?” 

He stole a sugar cookie. “No, no crying.” 


“Yes,…..No, no promises. Wow, those are good cookies.” 

Families filtered in and were given brown paper bags to decorate. Some came alone, some came with children, some came with friends. 

Some came stoically, some came with tears in their eyes. 

And they decorated those bags. 

The tables were covered with different types of stickers. Our job was to help them find the stickers they needed to decorate the bags. 

Easy task right? 

Oh no. 

When a grieving mama is looking for a red ball sticker and she can’t find a red ball sticker, you will move hell and earth to find that red ball sticker. 

And it can’t be a croquet ball, or a balloon that looks like a ball. It needs to be a ball. 

And I GOT it . I couldn’t help with anything…..I couldn’t make anything better but gosh darn it!  I could find a red ball. 

A Grandfather came up looking for a karate sticker. And I searched frantically for a damn karate sticker. 

A mama came up with tears in her eyes looking for ladybugs. “How old was she?” I asked.

“Two and a half”

I went outside, gazed at the Christmas lights and cried. It was a short cry… ugly cry but enough to dab a tear or too. 

I found Bob and gave him a nudge in the ribs. “You said I wouldn’t cry.” 

“It’s a lot of sad energy,” Bob said. “First Christmases are so hard.” 

“You SAID I wouldn’t cry.”  

“Here, have a cookie.” 

“Doesn’t help.” 

“Apple Cider?” 

I stayed later and spoke with some of the families. 

I believe in an afterlife and I think someone, something, some energy was there to greet Samantha as she journeyed on. 

And I think in this journey through grief here in this world, someone needs to greet you and tell you it will be okay….well not okay….it sucks my stinky big toe but at least, at least, I will find a karate sticker for you.

Or maybe not….I’m making this up as I go.  

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