The Kids Are The Priority: What Happens When We Are Both Grieving?
“With a little love and some tenderness
We’ll walk upon the water
We’ll rise above the mess
With a little peace and some harmony
We’ll take the world together
We’ll take them by the hand”
– Hootie and the Blowfish, “Hold My Hand”
The Kids Are The Priority: What Happens When We’re Both Grieving?
There is nothing that can bring a family closer together than sharing grief. Grieving together bonds us, strengthens us, and supports us. More importantly, grieving teaches our children about the power of vulnerability.
I refer to vulnerability as a power because without it, there is no human connection. It is an act of bravery that reveals the truth of our love for the individual that has departed. It shows that we are comfortable in exposing who we are and what we feel. It is the greatest lesson that comes from loss.
Guide Children Through Grief
So, go ahead and cry in front of your children. Explain the reason for your tears and don’t shame them for their own. Stoicism is no friend of grief.
When grief is packaged in an age-appropriate box, it is a gift that gently instructs children on the reality of loss–loss that they will experience in different forms throughout their lives.
Protecting children by denying one’s own emotions fails to teach them resilience. Instead, they learn to bury their feelings and, in essence, entomb their own sense of humanity.
Focus on Faith
A lack of faith creates fear in children. Regardless of one’s religion, faith in something bigger than ourselves brings hope, comfort, and peace. When parents pray or share religious or spiritual text, it shows children that they are never alone. This takes pressure off of parents. They are no longer singularly responsible for making everything “okay”. It gives children another source to turn to for consolation, and they gain an understanding that life doesn’t end with death. Mitigating this fear alone creates security, confidence, and optimism in children.
Encourage Expressions of Grief
Give yourself and your children permission to grieve. Grief looks and feels differently for both adults and children. Show your children how you process through grief. Maybe it is through journaling, listening to music, walking in nature, or creating a craft or piece of art. Nobody knows a child like his or her own parents. Based on a child’s personality and/or interests, work together to help your child find an outlet to release their sorrow.
Facing Grief Together
Loss can be painful and isolating; however, when parents and children face it together, grief’s waters becomes less turbulent and more navigable. Parents are a child’s greatest teacher. Tenderly, take your child’s hand and walk with them through grief’s vast channel.
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