Our family has experienced great loss throughout the years. First I lost my beautiful baby girl, Bella. Then 5 years later I have lost my first husband, Ian, suddenly. My current husband, Poose, had a similar loss with his wife. So all four of our children have experienced the loss of a parent, and two have also experienced the loss of a sibling. Our family has know heartbreak from all angles.
Grief isn’t something you can deal with for a specific amount of time, then be done with it. It keeps rearing it’s head over the years again and again. Memory, concentration and learning are all affected by grief, this is especially the case with children. Children need patience and an emotionally safe space while dealing with all of these intense emotions. Grief disrupts your mind and your thinking abilities, and this isn’t necessarily for just a short period of time. Complicated grief can show up years later and affect memory for good.
Children and adults can feel spread to thin with every little task seeming insurmountable. So a burdening school schedule can simply be too much for them to handle. While providing routine can be comforting to children experiencing grief, rigidity and busy schedules are overwhelming. Allowing children to follow their curiosities when they resurface, allowing them to take the lead as to what they want to learn can ease the burden of their grief, and provide that emotional support they need at such a hard time.
Processing grief and working through the anger, the denial, and depression of it all is a learning experience in itself. Providing the walls of support for the child to be able to build a life again is important. They may not be thrilled about their new life, but with time and space they an learn to be happy again and adjust to their new reality. Surrounding them in a loving, supportive environment at home with those that love them most, can help them to deal with the complicated emotional road they are taking.
In my experience in dealing with grieving children, keeping them with a simple, not over complicated schedule helps them to deal with the grieving process in a healthy manner. Spending times outdoors and not in the confines of the classroom can do much for our emotional well being. They are learning, it maybe not be out of a textbook, but they are learning how to cope with life and the sorrow that comes with it.
What has been your experience in dealing with grief?