Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Grief Project: Finding My Childlike Self

“I feel old.” I told my therapist.  

She said, “What do you mean?” 

I replied with, “Ever since Nora died I feel like I have aged decades.  Part of me thinks I am an eighty year-old woman living in a thirty year-old’s body.  I can’t explain it any other way.”

“Huh? What do you think you can do about it?” 

And what I came up with is that I need to find my childlike self if I don’t want to end up feeling like how I look in this picture below. 

(I’m sorry Nick, but I do not make for a sexy old lady. I think we might need to save for future facelifts.)

So, I decided to make a TO DO List (because I love them!) for how to find my childlike self.  And here is what I came up with:

Finding My Childlike SELF TO DO LIST
  1. Dance once a day
  2. Dare to be brave as only a child can do
  3. Seek out the silly and do something foolish
  4. Laugh with a full heart
  5. Be curious

I set out to do these things to soften my grief and to let joy back into my life.  
Here is what happened:

      1. Dance once a day: I cranked the music up and looked for opportunities to follow that saying, “Dance like no one is watching!”  So I danced in my car (well, bounced around a lot).  I danced and sang in the kitchen while cooking dinner with my husband.  I shook my tush in front of the mirror getting ready in the morning.  And do you know what happened when I remembered to do dance at least once a day?  By golly, I started having a pep in my step and whistling while I work!  Whaaat? That was not me.  But it’s true.  The more I let go and danced, the more it started happening when I didn’t force myself to do it. 

      2. Dare to be brave as only a child can do: This one was hard to do.  I thought to myself, what is it that kids have on adults that they can be more brave?  The answer – A LOT!  Children throw caution to the wind.  Rise to new challenges without a preconceived notion of predicted defeat.  They are open to the experience for the EXPERIENCE!  So when my niece was in town I took that opportunity to try TRAPEZE with her.  That’s right, I went “flying” as they call it.  It was AWESOME!

Since losing Nora I find myself fearing life more because I know how quickly it can end. And while I climbed the ladder to the trapeze platform, not hooked in to any safety apparatus, I thought about how I could plummet to my death and break my neck.  Which made me think about her and how she died with no warning.  But then thinking about her also gave me courage to continue; to face the fear and do it anyway as they say.  And it was worth it. “Flying” reminded me that life can still be fun and exciting, even while I’m grieving.

     3. Seek out the silly and do something foolish: I am good at this.  But often times as adults we forget to just do something for the sake of having fun, like children do.  (We could learn so much about how to live life from children.) So, this time I asked Nick to come on this adventure with me. We did an favorite activity of mine from childhood.  We built a fort, with blankets, and pillows.  We turned over furniture, brought up extra chairs, got out the flashlights, and destroyed the living room with a massive blanket fort. 

This activity was fun for us.  It was freeing to let go and do something foolish.  I do have to admit that it was also sad.  Towards the end of making the fort, Nick and I were laying on our backs watching the flashlight beam hit the top of the tent we made when he turned to me and said, “I wish we could build a fort with Nora.”  AHHH.  Even the good moments can sometimes be tainted with sadness.  But I choose to have all of them.  Because I have come to realize that is the nature of life.

     4. Laugh with a full heart: To accomplish this goal we rented comedies and funny movies for three weeks.  We normally like to watch dark dramas but we made a concerted effort to bring more laughter into our lives.  Once we did things seemed a little lighter, at least while we were laughing.  And at times I even caught myself fully enjoying a belly laugh.

     5. Be curious: For this “To Do List” item we decided to go on adventure walks.  Sometimes opening your mind up to something new allows room for more healing in.  New adventures reminded me that there was still avenues of life unexplored to travel down.  So to accomplish this Nick and I would take George on “Adventure Walks” to new places.  We would walk slowly so George could experience all the wonderful scents and sounds only available to a dog, and Nick and I would then be able to stop and smell the roses and explore facets of life often times left unexcavated. It was a nice distraction from grief.


When making this list I was inspired by Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection and specifically her section on cultivating play and rest.
Also, the title of this article, “Finding My Childlike Self” comes from Healing Your Grieving Heart After Stillbirth: 100 Practical Ideas for Parents and Families. I decided to take #92 in the book, Express Your Childlike Self to heart.        

If you are really serious about PLAY then check out this TEDTalk by Dr. Stuart Brown: Play is more than just fun.  It doesn't talk about grief and play, but I think what he does address is relateable to why play would be important in grief. 


  1. Lindsey I love all of this. You are so inspiring. Trapeze...Wow. I must say that you help me step back an appreciate all that I am blessed to have and all that I wish for you to enjoy one day. Cheering you on as you step forward everyday

  2. I LOVE THIS POST!!!!!!! Yes to EVERYTHING, just everything. I remember feeling just like that, like grief had aged me so much, and I felt like an old lady trapped in a younger person's body. I craved life and had no idea how to enjoy it fully again. I must say 'dancing like nobody's watching' did make it on my 'list'!!! I love you! And getting on that trapeze, WOW! Kudos! You look like a pro! haha!


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