I Was Thinking…
Just coming off of a weekend celebrating the life of a really great man brings my mind to issues of grief and loss. My niece and nephews lost their Dad, their best friend, the person that really kept their lives full of consistency. It was a hard blow for them. He has been sick for many years so in that way they were as ready as possible, but the loss has still left a gaping hole!
Watching them deal with the loss of their Dad, each in their own way, reminded me again of how important it is for me as an Intentional Parent to never forget the impact that grief and loss has on my children. It is a part of who they are. The loss of their biological family has impacted them at their core. The reality is that it doesn’t stop them too much anymore but it used to. As I look ahead, I think it will come into play when we deal with big life changing events like marriage and children.
What does grief look like in a child? I think too many times we miss it! We expect it to look a certain way and when we don’t see that specific picture we think it isn’t an issue! Unfortunately, grief is often misinterpreted as misbehavior, defiance, and just not caring. Children only have a very short list of behaviors they can use to express their emotions. These behaviors will be used to express a variety of emotions and we as their parents have to know that this includes the sadness and loss they inevitably feel from losing those first attachment figures.
It is up to us to know and to understand. It is up to us as Intentional Parents to meet them where they are emotionally! To believe them and honor those times when they express emotion about the losses in their life. To "know" when ugly behavior is pain not defiance. It is scary and uncomfortable to see our child hurt that way, but allowing them to bring it to us is truly being the safety net they need. Just listen. Comfort them. Tell them you are sorry they have to have this hurt.
I hurt for my niece and nephews. I am sad for their loss and really wish they had been able to have their Dad around a lot longer. I hurt for my daughters. I am sad for all the loss they suffered at such young ages. I see them deal with it, each in their own way. We have always talked about it as openly as possible. Sometimes they grieved with anger, sometimes with absolute heart wrenching sadness and sometimes they kept it in the quiet places of their minds just figuring out how to go forward. These losses are a part of their story. Their identity. The ramifications of them will impact how they make choices in life, how they love, and how they live - to be sure. But my hope is that they are able to grieve these losses so that they are able to transform their lives into whatever they choose for themselves!