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Hurt Pockets, Backpacks & U-Hauls

I have always heard it said, "If you are telling a story verbally, you need to speak to the eyes of the audience listening."


When I am leading a new group of grievers, I always begin childhood hurts. I refer to this era as the hurt pocket. This is where we all begin to learn about hurt feelings, and loss. I usually ask my group to close their eyes and simply follow along in their minds with me as I tell them a story with words, about a little girl, named Sally.

Sally is about seven years old and she is having a really bad week. On Monday, she was carrying her lunch tray to the table and slipped and fell. All the contents of her lunch went flying, and the entire cafeteria erupted with laughter. Sally began to cry due to the embarrassment of the whole ordeal, as the other children began chanting, "Cry Baby, Cry!"

Sally did not say anything to her mother about what happened at school. She was too ashamed and so, she simply tucked away in her tiny little hurt pocket.

Sally went to school on Tuesday and during recess, one little girl had remembered the lunchroom incident from the previous day and began to point and shout, "Look! There's Sloppy Sally, the cry baby!" A few of the other girls, including Sally's best-friend gathered around and joined in on the chant. Sally began to stand her ground and fought back. Only to be seen by a teacher, and taken to the office for fighting on the playground. Sally felt helpless as she pleaded with her teacher how they were being mean and calling her bad names. But her words fell on deaf ears, as the teacher continued to pull her towards to Principles Office for fighting. One more loss of helplessness, and inability to trust someone in authority, goes right into her hurt pocket.

The middle of the week had arrived, and Sally felt some relief that her week was nearly done now. Only two more days and this week would be over. She found herself back in the lunchroom, carrying her lunch tray to her normal table, only to be told, "No! You can't sit with us." She saw her best friend, Becky, and the look of rejection she received told her everything. Sadly, Sally walked away and found an empty spot at the other end of the table, and ate her lunch in silence. She could see the other girls pointing their fingers and laughing at her. Sally felt the humiliation deeply at this point. The hurt pocket now had that emotion we can all relate to, called rejection.

Thursday has now come and Sally is not feeling good. "My tummy hurts, mommy. I don't feel good." So like all good mommy's, Sally's mom felt her forehead and said, "Honey, you don't have a fever, so you'll have to at least try to make the day. Now, get up and get dressed. I'll make you some breakfast." Sally flung the covers back and did as her mother told her, and got ready for school. She recalled the events of the week as she brushed her teeth.

All the name calling when she dropped her lunch tray; the trip to the Principle's Office for fighting; and how her best friend, Becky, had treated her. She walked towards her goldfish bowl and sprinkled a small pinch of fish food and told her fish, in great detail, how she dreaded the day. She even thanked him for listening and went to the kitchen to eat her breakfast. Oh how she wished her mom would just listen to her about how much her tummy hurt and let her stay home. Her thoughts raced as she now had that all familiar tape playing inside of her head of the week's events. UGH!

Sally soon realized that Thursday was no different as the days prior. She tried to speak to her best friend, Becky only to be ignored. Becky was now best friends with Monica. Sally tried desperately to find a new friend to call her best friend, but none of the other girls would give her a chance. Sally's tummy was really beginning to hurt, and she truly felt sick at her stomach. The teacher sent her to the nurse who, like her mother earlier, said, "You don't have a fever and you haven't thrown up. Did you eat breakfast this morning? Why don't you eat some lunch, you'll feel better after you've eaten." Sally manages to get through the day. She was glad she only had one day left and this week would be over with! Sally's hurt pocket added the feelings of not being heard or believed.

Friday comes along and Sally does her normal routine. Get up, get dressed, breakfast, brush teeth, feed the goldfish and head out to school. All was going rather well until she realized her goldfish, was not swimming up to eat. She tapped the bowl several times, and her fish just floated. She yelled for her mommy! When her mother came up and saw that Sally's fish had died, she was at a loss of words. She assured Sally that she would take care of it while she was at school. Sally had never seen anything dead before, so she had no idea what her mother meant.

Sally made it through the day and was still not friends with Becky, and some of the other girls still called her a cry baby. Sally still had a tummy ache as she thought about her goldfish. Friday was always a spelling test day, and Sally didn't pass her test. So, as you may have guessed, on top of Sloppy Sally, the Cry Baby, now she carried the name of Stupid Sally!

At the end of the day, she saw Becky, walking towards her. She felt a bit of excitement to think that she and Becky would be best friends again. Becky told her that this was going to be her last day at school. Becky and her family were moving to another city and she would not be back. Sally felt as if her whole life just fell apart. Becky, her best friend, whom she had many sleep overs with, played dress up, baby dolls, watched cartoons, and shared all of her secrets with, was moving away, forever. Sally wanted to cry, but held back the tears. Another loss added to her hurt pocket.

Once Sally got home, she immediately ran up to talk to her goldfish about Becky. Sally got to her room only to find the bowl, empty. No water, no goldfish, no gravel, just empty and dry. She ran to her mother and by now, the week full of emotion was spilling down her cheeks. Sally told her mother about dropping the tray at lunch, and how all the other kids laughed at her and called her names. Then, on the playground the next day, all the other girls were being mean to her, including Becky. She said the Principle told her she couldn't use her fists, but to use her words when she needed to defend herself. She told her mother that Becky was moving away to another city and she wouldn't see Becky, EVER! UGH! Her goldfish came to mind. Little Sally burst into tears as she recalled the empty fish bowl.

"Where is my goldish?" Sally's mom began to explain that her goldfish just didn't wake up. "But we can get you another goldfish. You can get a new best friend, because there are plenty of other girls you can be friends with." The tears could not stop flowing down Sally's cheeks as hard as her mother tried, Sally just couldn't get herself to stop crying. The dam of emotions she had tucked away had burst, and the uncontrolled emotions burst forth with much fury. "Don't cry Sally, please stop." her mother pleaded. But, nothing her mother said could stop the continuous flow of tears.

Her mother turned away from Sally and walked over to the kitchen counter. She had baked a cake because she knew Sally would be upset about her goldfish. So as a last resort, her mother walked back over to where Sally was and said, "Here you go honey. I baked a cak