Tag Archives: children

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Moving and Grief

Can Moving Cause Grief?

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Moving is not normally treated as a grieving event. Since the definition of grief is “the conflicting feelings caused by the change in or the end of a familiar pattern of behavior”, it is understandable why moving can cause feelings of loss. In fact, children are especially susceptible to the emotional effects of moving.

REASONS FOR MOVING

People move for any number of reasons. Our parents are in the military which means it’s just a fact of life that we are never in one town for very long. We just graduated from High School and have been accepted to a college out-of-state which means moving away from our family for the first time. We were recently divorced and our home is being sold as part of a community property settlement which means starting over somewhere new. We got a promotion at work which means transferring to the opposite coast and leaving behind everything we have known all our lives. We lost our job which means we can no longer afford to live in our current home. We lost our health and can no longer take care of ourselves which means we have to move into Assisted Living where we can get 24 hour care. These are just a few of the scenarios behind why moving can be a grieving experience for someone.

My very first move was as a 10 year old child. My Dad was transferred to England to head up a large satellite project. Not only were we leaving our family, friends and school, we were also moving out of the United States to a country we knew nothing about. I remember my dad getting out the world globe (no internet in those days) and showing my sister and I England.  I am not sure it did much to help our situation other than to confirm England was very, very far away. Once we arrived there, our fears were confirmed –  everything was different – the people, the schools and especially the food. It was difficult trying to figure out how we fit in. Despite the difficulties, my sister and I were able to pick up British accents and eventually become one of the “locals”. That’s not to say that we didn’t continue to miss our family, our friends and especially American food – Oreo cookies and root beer in particular.

So I figured out at a young age that moving can have both positive and negative impacts on us. The positive was that we got to travel through Europe, visit lots of historical places and live in a large Victorian house. The negative was that we missed everyone and everything that was American. I think we grieved even though we probably didn’t recognize it at the time as grieving. Fortunately my parents were going through the same thing and didn’t fill our heads with those “grief urban legends” like “Be Strong” or “Don’t Feel Bad.” They allowed us to go through those emotions which I think helped us to mostly enjoy our time in England.

THINGS YOU CAN DO

In The Grief Recovery Method® book, When Children Grieve, the authors talk about some of the things that we can do as parents to help our children when moving. I also believe that these concepts are practical and very useful for adults as well.

Take An Emotional Tour(s):  You can take an emotional tour of your home, school, friends, workplace, neighborhood, town, etc. For example, this means walking through each room of your home, talking about the happy and sad experiences you had shared in each room, “thanking” and then “saying goodbye” to the room. This process allows you to “complete” the relationship with your home before you move on to your next one. This process can be repeated with just about anything listed above. It allows to have fond memories you can carry with you into your new experience. It makes leaving less painful.

Tell Your Emotional Truth: You don’t have to “suck it up” if you are sad about moving. I know I felt devastated when I had to leave my beautiful home and move into an apartment after my divorce. I was heartbroken for myself but more so for my children. There was no way I could afford to maintain a house on my salary in CA. I remember telling my children (who were very small at the time) that we were going to move. I told them how sad it was making me feel to have to move and that it was okay if they were sad too. Even if you don’t have children, it is important to be honest with yourself about how you are really feeling. It is normal and natural that there will be both happy and sad emotions. Recognize, accept and appreciate all of your feelings.

Recognizing moving as a grieving experience is important for an adult, and even more important for a child. If you have a plan-of-action for how to address it and are honest about your emotions associated with the move, you can start this new chapter in your life feeling complete.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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Helping Our Children Grieve

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How can we better understand childhood loss in order to help our children with grief? As a society we haven’t done a very good job. We encourage children to express joy when they are happy; but we discourage them from expressing their sadness when they are unhappy. These mixed messages have contributed to most of us growing into adults who try to cover up our heartbreak. We walk around pretending we are okay; or worse yet, we turn to short term energy-relieving behaviors (like alcohol, drugs, shopping, anger, etc.) to “numb the pain.” These behaviors do little to help address our grief in the long run.

MOST COMMON CHILDHOOD LOSSES 

The Grief Recovery Method® lists the following as the most common losses experienced by a child:

Death of a pet

Death of a grandparent

Major move

Divorce of parents

Death of a parent

How can we better help our children grow into adults who can deal with these losses? It may be hard for many of us to change, but our children need us to take the lead when it comes to loss. We have to learn to replace our old behaviors with new ones when it comes to grief. This means we need to look long and hard about how we deal with and react to loss in our own lives. If we can do that, our children have more of chance of being successful in their own lives. The book When Children Grieve states, “Establishing a foundation for effectively dealing with loss can be one of the greatest gifts you give you child.”

WAYS TO HELP A GRIEVING CHILD

Here are six ways you can help a child who is grieving:

Allow all emotions to be expressed, without judgment, criticism, or analysis.

Avoid the trap of asking a child what is wrong since he or she will automatically say, “Nothing.”

Adults – Go first. Telling the truth about your own grief will make your child feel safe in opening up about his or her own feelings.

Remember the reaction a child has is unique to them. If you have more than one child, respect that each of their reactions will probably be different.

Acknowledge your child’s emotions before addressing the facts.  Listen with your heart and not your head. If your child brings up the same issue over and over again, it means they are not being heard.

Make sure your verbal and non-verbal communications match. Children may respond incorrectly to their loss if they feel you are teaching them to “do as I say, not as I do.”

Our children look up to us. They tend to do as we do. It’s important that as adults, we communicate accurately about our emotions so that our children can see, copy and learn. Helping them will ensure they can more effectively deal with grief and loss events throughout their lives.

If you are interested in learning more, watch our FREE WEBINAR Helping Children Grieve presented by The Grief Reiki Academy.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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Children's Grief Awareness

Children’s Grief Awareness Month (2017)

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November is Children’s Grief Awareness Month. Childhood grief remains one of society’s most overlooked and least understood issues. This lack of community awareness compounds the grief journey that every bereaved family must undergo. By developing a timely, robust body of knowledge around kids’ and parents’ grief experience – and sharing that knowledge broadly – the hope is to raise public awareness and understanding of the prevalence and impact of childhood loss.

NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR GRIEVING CHILDREN

The National Alliance for Grieving Children provides a network for nationwide communication between hundreds of professionals and volunteers who want to share ideas, information and resources with each other to better support the grieving children and families they serve in their own communities. Through this network, the NAGC offers online education, hosts an annual symposium on children’s grief, maintains a national data base of children’s bereavement support programs and promotes national awareness to enhance public sensitivity to the issues impacting grieving children and teens.

Children Grieve…

…when people in their lives die.

…in a personal, individual, and unique way.

…within the context of their family, culture, and community.

…the death of someone in their life in different ways at different times.

Children who are grieving a death are supported when…

…parents and caregivers provide attentiveness, warmth, and connection.

…they hear words and see actions that uplift, empower, and encourage them.

…they are prepared for things they might see and experience after the death.

…adults model healthy coping.

…they are given space to experience and express their grief in their own ways.

…they are able to connect with peers who have also experienced a death.

MOST COMMON CHILDHOOD LOSSES 

The Grief Recovery Method® lists the following as the most common losses experienced by a child:

…Death of a pet

…Death of a grandparent

…Major move

…Divorce of parents

…Death of a parent

How can we better help our children grow into adults who can deal with these losses? It may be hard for many of us to change, but our children need us to take the lead when it comes to loss. We have to learn to replace our old behaviors with new ones when it comes to grief. This means we need to look long and hard about how we deal with and react to loss in our own lives. If we can do that, our children have more of chance of being successful in their own lives. The book When Children Grieve states, “Establishing a foundation for effectively dealing with loss can be one of the greatest gifts you give you child.”

WAYS TO HELP A GRIEVING CHILD

Here are six ways you can help a child who is grieving:

…Allow all emotions to be expressed, without judgment, criticism, or analysis.

…Avoid the trap of asking a child what is wrong since he or she will automatically say, “Nothing.”

…Adults – Go first. Telling the truth about your own grief will make your child feel safe in opening up about his or her own feelings.

…Remember the reaction a child has is unique to them. If you have more than one child, respect that each of their reactions will probably be different.

…Acknowledge your child’s emotions before addressing the facts.  Listen with your heart and not your head. If your child brings up the same issue over and over again, it means they are not being heard.

…Make sure your verbal and non-verbal communications match. Children may respond incorrectly to their loss if they feel you are teaching them to “do as I say, not as I do.”

Our children look up to us. They tend to do as we do. It’s important that as adults, we communicate accurately about our emotions so that our children can see, copy and learn. Helping them will ensure they can more effectively deal with grief and loss events throughout their lives.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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