How are you grieving change during this pandemic? Grief is about more than loss of life. We mourn all kinds of loss. Can allowing yourself to grieve bless your children? Let’s talk about it.
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As a licensed therapist personally familiar with multiple types of grief, Katherine helps you fully process your grief, your way. Because grief happens.
Episode 4 transcript
I’m recording this episode just a few days from receiving the long expected announcement our local schools will remain closed the rest of the year.
Now many of you around the country have lived with that reality for some time already.
We’re arriving late to the party here in TX.
And as much as my husband and I prepared ourselves and the kids for this possibility—it’s still change. A change that’s a tough pill to swallow. A change to grieve, because grief accompanies loss.
Maybe you only associated grief with death—even more so during this pandemic.
But along with the loss of a job, the loss of health, and the loss of relationships—there’s the loss of expectation.
Just a couple months ago we expected life to go on as usual with school days and spring breaks. My daughter looked forward to her school’s 5th grade promotion party. You looked forward to graduations, bustling business and office meetings—and if you didn’t look forward to those meetings before, I bet you do now!
But the record player called life scratched all that, suddenly leaving us with a very different reality.
And unlike the passing of a loved one, this loss is open-ended. Because we don’t know when this will be over or how much more we’ll lose before then.
That’s cause for grief, my friend.
And as my friend and grief expert, Katherine Barner, shares in her book God Help Me I’m Grieving, all grief is valid, all grief is personal, and grief—must be processed.
So how are you processing your loss?
Grief is a completely normal part of life and while it doesn’t feel good, processing it IS good. Because until you do, you’ll stay stuck and be emotionally unavailable to help your children process theirs. Because your kids ARE grieving.
It may look like sleeping more than usual, pulling away from everyone, or acting out. They may express it with anxiety or compulsive behavior. Or they may just bury it inside, choosing not to deal.
But you and I know feelings never stay buried. If not addressed now, they’ll address you later.
What do you do when everyone’s stuck at home grieving different things, different ways, to different degrees?
Well, like they say on airplanes in case of a loss of cabin pressure, put your mask on first before assisting your children.
For me that’s meant journaling. Because while I do pray candid prayers, I’m even more raw in my journal—which helps to keep me from taking my frustrations out on my family and later regretting what I said.
I also take some alone time after the kids are done with school work.
Now, my kids are older so I can easily do that.
If yours are younger, maybe you can take advantage of their nap times and if they’re past that age there’s always reading hour. I used to set my kids up with books in their favorite spot and told them to stay there and read till the timer went off.
So, I encourage you to find what works for you and stay with it, girl. This is NOT the time to cater to everyone else and leave yourself blowing in the wind.
Now when it comes to helping the kids process their feelings, I take advantage of any moment I get with them collectively and individually.
Sometimes I ask questions. We also play games. My daughter loves that, my boys hate it.
But you know what?
They end up talking while we’re playing because they’re less self-conscious. I love how that works! But most times I’m just present to listen in case they want to talk.
And like I always say, there’s something about them knowing they’re seen and heard that’s helpful—even if you can’t solve their problem.
That said, everything hasn’t been peaches and cream over here.
You don’t always get on top of processing feelings by asking questions. Because recognizing your feelings is a skill you learn. There are adults who struggle identifying and expressing their emotions. So you know kids have trouble with it.
So since my kids got the official school year cancellation notice, we’ve had some tense moments, a few rude attitudes and a fight we broke up between the boys.
It wasn’t until we talked through these issues that we found it was all related to their feelings about school.
It helped that I anticipated that might have been the issue. So my husband and I talked it out with them and asked questions instead of just going off on them for their behavior.
That said, none of the strategies we’ve talked about so far replaces counseling, if needed.
Grief can morph into depression and if you find yourself overwhelmed by your emotions—by all means seek help from a licensed counselor.
There is no shame in that game, especially in this pandemic. We are body, mind and spirit, and tending to all three keeps us balanced.
And to live whole every day IS the abundant life Jesus offers, and doesn’t that sound wonderful pandemic or not?
This is new for all of us and we need each other to navigate our way through.
There are all types of online counseling services available with providers offering payment plans to make getting help affordable.
So what are you grieving these days? Big or small, how are you processing it? Prayer, journaling, online counseling?
Remember, you can’t give from an empty well or pour from a cracked pitcher.
So with your oxygen mask on, how can you create space for your kids to share their grief?
If you’re looking for a conversation starter with your children or help processing your own grief, I highly recommend the book God Help Me I’m Grieving by Katherine Barner.
She addresses some of the myths about grief while empowering you to move through the process at your speed, your way.
You can find the link to her book in today’s show notes over at VineLifeFaith.com.
So until next time, remember, when it comes to you being the mother of your children—YOU are the woman for the job! Take care.