Grief 101: Teaching the Hard Lessons
She woke up yesterday morning, crying about a dream she’d had, grieving the loss of a beloved pet that had to be re-homed. It has been three weeks since we moved to our temporary home, and we have been so busy with moving, getting somewhat settled, dance recital (thanks to very generous friends who made sure the girls could participate), and finishing up our school year that we haven’t really had time to process all the changes that have happened over the past month—and the ones that are coming.
I held her while she cried, and when the sobs subsided, we talked. I explained the cyclical nature of grief: how it sneaks up on you when you least expect it, when you think you’ve dealt with the loss, and you find yourself dealing with it all over again. She knows she will be okay, that we will be okay, but we still have to process the losses: our pets, the only home the girls have ever known, the temporary move to a neighboring town (which means more travel to get to our church, homeschool group activities, and friends), and our dreams of what we thought the future would be like. All of this has to be reconciled with our present reality and with the changes that we know are still to come.
My kids haven’t had to deal with much loss in their lives. And now it’s coming hard and fast, all at once. So I’m teaching Grief 101, trying to help the girls realize that what they’re feeling is normal, that they have to face the feelings they have about the different aspects of our situation and deal with them so that they can heal and move forward.
We’re going to be okay. We all know that. But that doesn’t erase the feelings we’re having or the need to walk through them—and the need for the kids to understand the process. It’s natural, and it’s part of healing.
How have you helped your kids walk through the grief caused by hard times?