The Real Story of a Child's Grief

In doing grief counseling and support groups, I am asked how my family, specifically my children are doing now.  Without divulging extremely detailed personal information and possibly embarrassing my children, let me tell you how the Barber family is doing almost twenty years after the death of my wife and two year old daughter.  The number one question asked of me is “Have you remarried?”  The answer is “No, not yet.”  Please don’t get any ideas about blind dates or inviting me to a meal along with a surprise someone special.  I have had that happen.  It is embarrassing and awkward for me and the someone special.  I am not opposed to dating or getting remarried, but I want to make those life-changing decisions on my own and without help.

The second most common question is how my children are doing today.  My son and daughter are now all grown up and out on their own.  They have turned out well and successful despite me.  So far I am waiting for potential weddings and grandchildren.

Christian and Sarah grow more and more open about their thoughts and feelings as they see me more as an advisor and friend rather than a hovering, interfering father.   We talk with fondness about our memories of their mother and their baby sister.  Occasionally, but not often, we may talk about the accident itself.  They both maintain to this day that they do not remember any of the details of that tragic day.

Sarah, who loves to write, sent me a potential children’s book.  It is the story of her grief experience as seen through the eyes of a young child…and in her words as a mourning daughter.  Remember that as you read the following that this book and her story are copyrighted.  You may share it with others, but please give my creative daughter, Sarah Barber, credit.  Now read ahead and see for yourself how my daughter is doing in her grief.

Death is a Very, Very Long Time, But Not Forever

My name is Sarah and this is my family.

Something really bad happened to my family.

My family was in a car crash, and my mommy and my baby sister died.

Everyone says that they are up in heaven now with God.

Daddy says that death is a very, very long time, but not forever.

My family is very sad and we miss them very much.

Lots of people come and do things for our family, like bring us food.

My aunt even comes to stay with us for a while.

Lots of grown-ups say that they are sorry, but I don't know what for.

Lots of times I cry, because I miss them; and that's okay.

Sometimes I don't cry, and that's okay too.

Sometimes I feel like it's my fault.

Sometimes I'm mad at other people, like it's their fault.

Sometimes I wish my mommy and my sister were still with me, and sometimes I wish I was up in heaven with them.

I ask God why, because I don't understand why they're gone.

Daddy says nobody, but God knows why.

I go to a group with a lot of kids like me who are sad, because they miss someone who died.

The grown-ups there ask a lot of questions.

Sometimes I can talk about what happened, and that's okay

Sometimes my heart hurts too much to talk, and that's okay too.

Sometimes my friends ask me questions...sometimes people ask about my mommy, because they don't know...sometimes people ask if I have a sister...sometimes I don't know what to say to them.

Sometimes seeing other people's mommies and sisters makes me sad.

Sometimes it doesn't.

Sometimes I forget that they are gone, and it hurts when I remember.

Sometimes when I'm dreaming, I see my mommy and my sister, and I am so happy, but then my heart hurts when I wake up.

I will never stop missing my mommy and my sister, but I am starting to be less sad.

Death is a very, very long time, but not forever.

Love you lots,


Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunica Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” on

Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX