Grief hurts . . .
Is it any wonder that as caring parents we rush to make our grieving child feel better? The problem is, many people are a bit confused about grief. They see it as something bad to be avoided at all cost. Therapy, medication and "give it time" are the most often recommended remedies.
But there's a purpose for grief. It is not an affliction that needs to be "treated;" it is the normal and natural response to loss—and one that every single living human being will experience many times in their lifetime.
Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness.
It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price
you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.
- Earl Grollman
When we're patient with grief and allow it to do what it needs to do, it can be good grief. It can teach us precious lessons about what it means to be human. As parents, we can give that gift of good grief to our children. For most of us, it means first unlearning what we learned about grief as children.
Not knowing any differently, many of us grab ahold of what we know: replace the loss—get a pet to keep your child company; don't talk about the painful loss for fear of reminding and upsetting your child; be strong—don't let your child see you cry; don't feel bad—all things happen for a reason; keep busy so you don't have time to think about the pain—you'll get over it in time.
I'm fairly certain those messages didn't make you feel better. They won't make your child feel better, either.
Exactly HOW can we equip our children to grieve well, especially when we were not equipped as children ourselves?
Replacing learned unhelpful responses with the empathy and honesty of ESSENTIAL MESSAGES will help your child feel better. They will feel listened to and supported, equipped to move through grief knowing that their feelings are normal and okay.
You can not know how another griever feels, even if you've had a similar loss. Each person's grief is individual and unique. Bereaved siblings may grieve the same loss very differently.
Things to keep in mind about bereaved children:
Give your child
You give yourself permission to grieve by recognizing the need for grieving.