Authentic Grief

Welcome to the January 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Authenticity This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about authenticity through character, emotions, and establishing authentic communication with their children. We hope you enjoy this month's posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Honesty. ***  
Most of us have faced some sort of great loss in our life and have had to work through the grief process. Many families have had to deal with miscarriage, infant loss or the death of other close loved ones. I've shared that my husband passed away recently . Five years before that I lost my daughter, Bella, at 16 months of age. Grief sucks, it's ugly and there's no way around it. It can catch you off guard and leave you in an emotional puddle at the most unexpected moments.  At other times you want to cry, but feel unable to do so.
As parents, how can we be authentic in our grief? When we are faced with the emotions of anger, shock and depression do we tend to hide them from our children? Sometimes we think that we need to protect them from issues of death and dying.  How wrong we are to shield our children from these experiences! Death is a subject that we'll all deal with at some point. Trying to keep your child from experiencing grief or sorrow is impossible. Making death a taboo subject only creates more fear.
It is always best to tell children the truth. Share your genuine emotions on the topic. Perhaps they wondered what happened.Keep your communication simple and honest. It may not be easy to talk about, but it's best to answer the child's questions so they don't fill in the missing parts themselves. When they are left with their own thoughts, they may start to blame themselves for situations that were out of their control.
 Feel your loss when it happens, share those feelings with your children. It's okay for your children to see you cry or to feel angry in dealing with the loss your family has faced.(It's also okay to take time for yourself to cry alone too!) Depending on their age, children may not have an adequate vocabulary to explain their feelings. So keep the conversation going as they grow. They'll mature and have the vocabulary to put their feelings into words and this will help them to continue in their grief process. It also helps to preserve the memory of the dead loved one.
When a family is faced with a great loss, often well meaning family and friends may offer to take the child(ren) to give the grieving parent(s) a break. This may be helpful for short periods of time. However, many children will fell more secure being close to their parents through this scary time. It can be so difficult to be dealing with your own grief and reaching out to help your children at the same time. Working towards this balance of healing yourself and your children is key.  If possible, reaching out to help our children through their grief will help them in their path to healing, and will reward us in the long run.
Embracing grief and dealing with it in an authentic manner will give your child a strong foundation to build on as they grow. They will grow up more aware of how to deal with tragedy and loss that they will face as adults. This will help them to know how to support others in a healthy, whole manner. It can be a time of unexpected lessons. Often children will learn how to deeply care for one another, because of the love they were shown through this difficult time.  I am reminded of my son's prayer last night, he said "We are very sad, but we are happy. We have friends that love us so much.."
*** APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month's Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!   Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 25 with all the carnival links.)

8 comments:

  1. Fantastic post. My parents 'protected me' from all of that difficult stuff and all it meant was, when I lost someone I loved dearly at 28 years old, I couldn't deal with it! I'd not been given the tools, I didn't know if what I experienced was 'ok' and I didn't know what to do with the tsunami of emotions that washed over me. So good for you for being authentic and real and thank you for sharing so openly with us too.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story. I agree that being honest with our children is very important. Without honesty, we are denying ourselves authenticity and our children opportunities to learn and be themselves.

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  3. Oh, wow, your son's prayer is so touching. I'm glad you're finding ways to be authentic about the grief with your children. I've needed to do that in smaller ways with my kids, and even though it's hard, it just seems like the healthiest road for everyone.

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  4. Really grieving is so important, and it does help keep memories alive. So sad when a story is kept inside for fear of causing or bringing up grief. Grief happens, it needs to be addressed, acknowledged, felt, experienced. Your kids are lucky to have you through this and for the rest of their lives.

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  5. You are an inspiring woman Erica! I often wonder how one person can stay as strong as you have through two huge losses. I think your strength lies in your ability to allow yourself and your children to express the emotions you feel, when you feel them. How you hold the space for yourself and your children during this time will shape who they become in the future.

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  6. We have also had our share of loss this year. My sister-in-law didn't allow her 4 children to participate in the novena of their grandmother. However, I not only encouraged my son to be present, but to participate fully in the traditions of grieving found here in Mexico. There is nothing shameful or that should be hidden in authentic grief.

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  7. A beautiful and moving post, thank you for sharing. I have yet to deal with grief with my children but I hope that when I do I can be as authentic as you.

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  8. this is very beautiful. I completely believe we should share our authentic emotions too... I have been going through depression and I have been very open and honest about it to my daughter. It's important they know what's going on, it's important they don't come to see sadness and grief as taboo...
    My parents kept me away from the funeral of my godfather and my grandmother, because I was really young at that time, We had to sleep over at the nuns while my parents went, even though I was so young, I still remember that like it was yesterday. I think it stole away the closure funerals offer

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