This pandemic has left it’s mark on everyone – some marks deeper than others. Some will be too frightened to go anywhere again. Some will wear a mask from now on. Some will have nothing more than bad memories. But the epidemic of hopelessness among teenagers seems most tragic to me.
According to a psychologist I know, children in their teen years have lost their will to live in unheard of numbers. Can you even imagine being 14 or 15 and seeing no future for yourself? I really couldn’t imagine that myself.
Or at least I couldn’t until I found out that my 16 yo grandson Matt had confided to his physician that he was having some suicidal thoughts. Then it all came crashing in. This is real! This is happening! My baby is in danger!
My poor sweet boy had not planned the date or time but had definitely planned the method to end his life. That’s how absolutely real it is to have no hope!
My first instinct was to get on a plane, fly two and half hours, go to Matt’s school and scoop him up in my arms like a baby. Then hug and kiss him all over, follow him around so no one could say or do anything hurtful to him. And if anyone tried, I would beat the snot out of them!
That was the Granny bear response in me. But first responses are often primal and not thought out very well.
So what did I really do? After some careful thought, I wrote my sweet darling boy a love letter.
I told him how much I loved him, how much Gramps loved him, how lovable he is in general.
I told him all the things I loved about him – his energy, his love of music, his sense of humor.
I told him how much I appreciated his love of astronomy, his joy of marching in the High School band, how well he plays his saxophone.
I told him how much I enjoyed being around him, the good memories I have of our vacation together and how well he can tell a joke. I ended the letter saying, “Remember you are my favorite!”, which is something I say to all my grandchildren. They all laugh, but it is true. They are ALL my favorite!
Of course, one letter is not a cure-all but lots of love and prayer can certainly tip the scales. And that’s what I have lots of – love and prayer.
Look out Matt! You’re about to be loved on and prayed for, Granny style!!!!!
First of all, I’m a talker. I tell stories and jokes, keep the conversation going, ask questions and make comments. I’m good at small talk and making strangers feel welcome. At a restaurant, I can get the waiter’s/waitress’ complete history by the time our meal is served.
I’m not usually comfortable with silence in the room. I love the sound of talking, laughing and conversation.
But sometimes . . . . .
As the other day when I just happened to be standing with a friend at church. I asked her how she was.
(Now let me pause here and give you some good Granny advice. Never and I mean NEVER ask anyone how they are unless you are prepared to hear the answer. The whole answer!)
She proceeded to tell me how things were not going well, how the doctors were not able to give her answers, how frightened she was, how out of control she felt.
Believe me when I tell you, I had no jokes, no stories, no small talk, no witty words to make her feel better. I stood there silent, holding her hand and listened until she had no more words.
She thanked me profusely for hearing her. We hugged and cried. Then she said, “You are the only one who understands.”
Truthfully, I didn’t understand anything, except I could identify with her feelings. I had said nothing of any profound use, offered no advice, didn’t even say I understood.
I simply looked into her eyes for what seemed like hours and listened to her story of pain. It doesn’t seem like much, until no one does it. Then the lack of it can be it’s own kind of death.
She and I aren’t even the closest of friends. We see each other at church and church functions and are friendly.
How this all happened this one particular time, this one particular moment and place is a mystery. Or is it?
She was ready and I was ready. One to talk and one to listen.
And you know what? I’m as grateful as she is!!!!
- Be there
- Say “yes” as often as possible
- If they’re crabby, put them in water
- If they’re unlovable, love them anyway
- Laugh a lot
- Have family movie nights
- Let them pick out their own clothes
- Don’t yell
- Play games
- Play dress up
- Read books out loud with joy
- Bake a cake and lick the bowl
- Surprise them
- Handle with care
- Be kind
- Make traditions
- Hug them every time you greet them
- Say “I love you” every time you say goodbye