Hello Readers! I’m so sorry it’s been so darn long. Life is never a dull moment around here~a good thing! Lots and lots of change and blessings in my life (all of it exciting which I will share in a new post shortly) but today, I wanted to share some of my own learnings on grief.
As many of you know our family has sustained some significant lossesl and thus significant grief, over the last 5+ years. My (now) husband lost his amazing wife of 42 years in a car crash and he almost didn’t survive himself. We lost our “remarkable-in every -way” 43 year old daughter-in-law to metastatic breast cancer and our 45 year old former son-in-law out of the blue. We lost our 28 year-old nephew to diabetes and we lost our over-photographed rescue dog, #theColonel, totally unexpectedly. We’ve watched our children and grandchildren loose pets and dreams. Grief has been handed to all of us here in the Adams family in over abundance.
Here’s where I found myself: I was a new wife ( now a wife of a whole 3 years) , a new “step-mom” (my husband’s 6 children are in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s so it’s more about being Dad’s wife) to children suffering grief, a new grandmother to 13 beautiful grandchildren (Did I mention that they call me PattyCakes?) and bam!, the above happened. Needless to say, I was woefully ill- prepared.
So today I share some of my learnings and my mis-steps here with you. If they resonate great and if not, as usual go on and toss them
1. Some families/children handle grief privately not on social media. They may want and need privacy, not Facebook posts. I’ve been guilty of this one myself, have rethought that and changed my Facebook ways. Think about it, if you lost a parent/spouse would you want to be unexpectedly jolted by a Facebook post? I’m not in anyway saying not to share memories , pay tributes on birthdays, etc. That’s totally appropriate and appreciated. But before posting, think and be wise.
Learning: Put yourself in their shoes and be empathetic.
2. Most children don’t want to be called their “father or mother’s daughter”. They want to be and are their own person. They may be even hurt by such well-meaning but unhelpful comments. This doesn’t mean that they don’t love their Dad and Mom. They merely want to be recognized as their own person. Totally understandable, right?
Learning: Choose your well-intended words wisely.
3. Each person/child grieves differently based on their relationship with their parent/sibling/spouse. Assumptions should not be made. That doesn’t mean that they don’t love the heck of out their Dad, Mom, sibling or former spouse.
Learning: Give everyone some breathing room.
4. Not everyone wants to talk about it. If they don’t, don’t take offense. It typically means that their grief may have subsided and/or they prefer to talk to their friends or counsellors. When they do talk, I can assure that it will break your heart into a million pieces. It will also warm your heart and you will be bursting with pride. You will know that their Dad/Mom wherever they are, are immensely proud of them at that very moment.
Learning: Let them come to you.
5. I’m Christian and one of the things that drives me crazy is when faith-based folks of any kind tell kids “It happened for a reason”. I know you mean well. Please don’t do that to grieving children or adults. It’s insensitive and gives Christianity and other faiths a bad name.
And atheists/agnostics/whatever, you are in the hot-seat here too! Just because a sibling/parent was an agnostic or whatever, don’t you assume/profess that to children either. It’s equally as bad! Again, let them be their own person.
Learning: Don’t foist your faith or non-faith beliefs on grieving children.
I know you’ve sustained many great losses yourself. My heart goes out to you. I’m curious what learnings you’ve learned around loss and particularly watching children grieve. I hope you’ll share with our readers below so that we all may continue to learn and grow.
Ps. When I post topics on family, my husband always reads them before-hand. I want to get the tone and content right. This is another way I try to foster empathy 🙂