Children’s Grief and the Power of Ritual

This story comes from Angel DeShane, our Children’s Program Coordinator.

At the end of the Children’s Program in the Spring, we honor the work the children have done by having a rock ceremony. Each child gets to pick a beautiful smooth polished stone from the box. I explain how our grief is like a tumbled stone — we start off rough in our grief journey and as we heal and grow, like a rock in a tumbler, we begin to get smooth and life gets a bit better. I also give each child a rough stone which I pick out of the street at my house, just simple gravel, signifying that there will often be days that are going to be rough.

As we were finishing up, I noticed one little girl was searching the ground. “What did you lose?” I asked.

“I lost my rock” she said. I told her it was OK, because I had more in the car and she could pick a new one. I got out the box of beautiful polished stones  and opened it for her to pick a new one.

She looked in the box and said, “No not the smooth one…I lost my rough stone.”

At this point one of the other little girls said, “Just pick one up off the ground.”

“No,” she said, “It has to be a special one that Angel gives us or it won’t be the same.”

I felt so honored in that moment that I thought my heart would burst. To be a part of the journey these children are on is such a gift.

Angel says she looks forward to working with new and returning children to our program this month. Thanks, Angel, for all you do for these kids!