My darling eight year old self,

I realised something a couple of years ago and I think it’s about time I shared it with you. Listen carefully, it’s a little trickier than it sounds.

You don’t have to hold everything in. You don’t need to hide your sadness from the world. Strength comes in different forms and grieving is not a sign of weakness. Contrary to what all the grown-ups around you are saying, keeping a “brave face” is actually kind of low on the list of things you need to help you through a painful experience.

You’ve just lost the six closest people to you… it happened so quickly, of course it hurts. Crying won’t make it all better but it will help you feel less “stuck”. When you swallow something painful it doesn’t disappear it carries on poking about inside of you, causing more pain and some sickness.

You’re eight! Yes your brain is putting things together a lot faster. Yes, you’re in boarding school but still get “homework”… none of that means that you have to be perfectly behaved at all times. Twenty-two years have passed and I’m still finding little things to let go of from all that is happening to you right now. I know you feel like you’re stuck in the flames on you blazer pocket… the good news is it’s all worthwhile, for real. I figured out our life purpose (I’ll tell you about that later) it involves a whole lot of empathy [use your dictionary love] and helping people work through their emotions. These days I feel like I am the Phoenix rising above the flames all majestic and calm… and I honestly don’t think any of this would have been possible without all you are going through right now.

So, Mr Barris-Hagon is about to stand up and ask you to join him in the corridor, don’t panic. It is not an exam. He won’t be scanning you for weaknesses. The matrons and teachers heard about the plane crash that happened over Easter and they’ve noticed how withdrawn you’ve been… they’re just worried about you. You can react however you like and it’s cool if you’re not ready to start talking yet. Just know that there is no need for a stone-face, complete denial and a weird story about missing toothpaste. It’s safe for you to lean on other people sometimes and above all, it’s important to be honest with yourself about all that’s happening inside of you… even if you’re not ready to share your truth with the world. Close your eyes for a second, take a deep breathe and know that you are safe and you are loved. Now open your eyes, relax and walk into that corridor.

Thank you for strength.
Love always,

Kui The Fish

P.S. Read as much fiction as your like! Books have loads of handy tips for the real world. ;-)

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