It’s easy to convince ourselves that one day we’ll “get over it” when it comes to dealing with grieve. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Grief is a process. Grief is a complicated thing. And it pops up for so many different reasons. The death of a loved one is not the only occasion for grieving. You and your child may grieve the loss of a special possession, relocation, broken relationship or any host of things. Grief really has no limits. Hence, why Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ proposal of 5 stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – sounds nice on paper but looks so very different in reality. Some experience each of these stages and about 100 more. Others barely hover over any of these. In this broken world of loss and hurting, let’s take a minute to discuss how you can best help your child (and yourself) work through grief. How can you get THROUGH (not over) it?
- Feel – as a parent, it is easy to go into mama/papa bear mode and be your child’s protector. We “have to hold it all together” for the sake of the family. This could not be farther from the truth. Your child needs to see and know that you have feelings. They need to see and know that the loss or transition impacts you deeply too. Your feelings are a model to your child. Feelings are ok, they are good and they are healthy.
- Support – do not go it alone. Seek out the love and support of those in your community of trust to be there for you. It may just mean sitting with you in the sadness. It may mean taking you out for a meal to get out. But even consider how you can get professional support. Even with the greatest support network, you need someone who is uninvolved to process through the grief alongside you in a totally different way. There is no shame in bringing someone else in to walk with you.
- Journal – I personally struggle to journal period, much less when it is in the darkest of days. But struggle through and pick up a pen and paper to get your thoughts out. Allow a release of the swirling and churning thoughts, emotions, questions and more. Give it to God in a tangible way.
- Cry Out – yes, tears are ok and even good to feel the feelings. Also, cry out in anger, sadness, confusion and pain to God. You may feel like giving up on God in these difficult times. That is perfectly normal and makes complete sense. Yet cry out to Him knowing that He never gives up on you. He was there when His own Son died on the cross. He is most certainly there for you as you grieve.
Give yourself grace. This is by no means an exact formula nor replete list. But doing these difficult things will help you work through some of the difficult parts of grief. Press on and do not give up!