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.."
*** Visit 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.)
- Remaining True To Yourself While Parenting - Authentic Parenting compares Western Child centered parenting with African parenting and discovers some ways to maintain your authenticity.
- Honoring My Forgiving Heart — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about how honoring her forgiving nature allows her to break down emotional barriers and allow her to more fully connect with her children.
- Sincere and Credible — Mari from Honey on the Bum uses the definition of authenticity to relate what it means to her and her parenting style
- Being Authentic — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog ponders how to achieve authenticity when there are cultural, community and family expectations to take into account...
- Authenticity — Sustainable Mum shares how her values have been shaped through life and are now the basis of how she parents her own children.
- Authenticity through Consensual Living — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children challenges parents to push past socially learned reactions in order to foster authentic interactions with their children.
- Authenticity Through Emotions — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her belief that being a truly authentic parent means allowing and supporting both her daughter’s emotions and her expression of them but also her (Jennifer's) own emotions.
- Authentic Grief — Erica at ChildOrganics talks about not shielding our children from the topic of death and dying. She shares how being open and honest on the topic can help our children grow to be healthy well-adjusted adults.
- Authentic Teaching, Authentic Learners — At Surviving Mexico, Survivor shares how learning how to be an authentic teacher was something she discovered rather than learned.