Replace the Loss, Sidebar
All Relationships Are Unique
Relationships with people, with animals, and even with prized possessions are unique. No two people can have identical relationships with anyone or anything. Yes, there can be parallels or similarities, but relationships are never identical. We bring our individuality into every relationship. Those of you who have more than one child know exactly what we mean. Each of your children is different and unique. Even parents who are blessed with identical twins know that as similar as they seem to be, the twins have distinct personalities.
Animals have different personalities, also.
If you have ever been around a litter of puppies or kittens, you know that in very short order, you can tell which ones are bold, which are shy, which ones crave more attention, which ones are loners. When you combine the uniqueness of a child with the uniqueness of an animal, you recognize that the uniqueness of the relationship is irreplaceable. It could never be exactly the same with another animal because the animal would be different. So the notion of replacing the loss is a very dangerous idea, because it translates into replace the relationship, which is not possible.
A failure to complete past relationships can make full participation in new relationships difficult or impossible.
What is possible is to have a new and unique relationship with a different animal. But, before we begin a new relationship we must complete the emotional relationship with the animal that has died. The same would hold true if the animal ran away or was given away. A failure to complete past relationships can make full participation in new relationships difficult or impossible. Children tend to try to re-create the old relationship with the new pet, mainly because they haven’t been shown how to complete the prior relationship. It is unfair to the new pet, which is simply being itself, and yet is being pressured to be like the original pet. Remember, pets, like people, have different personalities and trying to get the new dog to be like the old one puts it in conflict with its own unique and individual nature.
Replacing the loss becomes a wedge between people
Sadly, we hear stories every day where replacing the loss becomes a wedge between people. It is common for loving, well-meaning friends, a day or two after the death of a pet, to show up with a new puppy or a new kitty. This gift is given without the prior knowledge, permission, or consent of the grieving pet owners. What you often end up with is an angry recipient and a bewildered presenter. All because our society keeps trying to convince us that if we don’t feel bad, and if we replace the loss, we’ll feel better.
Joining of two myths . . .
Before we move on to another dangerous aspect of replacing the loss, let’s make an observation about the joining of two myths. Don’t feel bad and replace the loss almost always go together. Because we teach our children to believe that sad, painful, or negative feelings are not good, we automatically teach them to look for a different feeling, or relationship or object to replace the sad feeling. We have observed many parents becoming frantic in an attempt to “fix” their children following the death of a cherished pet. What these parents failed to realize was that their children did not need to be fixed. Mostly they needed to be heard. Their feelings of loss were normal and natural; there was nothing that needed fixing, just affirming.
Children need to experience feeling bad when their hearts are broken. It’s okay. Just like for adults. It’s okay. Don’t try to fix them with a replacement.
From the book. . When Children Grieve written by John W James and Russell Friedman with Dr. Leslie Landon Matthews
There is help . .
If you are interested in participating in the Renew Your Possibility – As Children Grieve 6 week Study group, sign up here.
This is a complimentary study group that will provide you some incredibly valuable safety tips and tools that you will be able to use for the rest of your life and your children’s lives. I guarantee it.
Or, if you are not ready to take that step, purchase the book “When Children Grieve here . .
Or download one of the ebooks under the resources page and read up on grief.
Another option is to Schedule a 15 minute complimentary call to share what your experiencing so you can ask me questions.
Just take that first step. Do something that you have not done before. It’s ok, that your not ok, yet please don’t stay stuck in grief. There is light on the other side.
Remember, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato
Yours in Gratitude and to Renewing Your Possibility. . .
Debbie Your Grief Recovery Specialist®