Helping Children With Loss – Myth 2
The Stolen Bicycle
It is not uncommon for one of the early losses in a child’s life to be the loss of a possession.
When John was about eight years old, someone stole his brand new bicycle. He had all of the natural feelings that any child would have when something of his or hers is stolen.
At home he was told, “Don’t feel bad, [pause] on Saturday we’ll get you a new bicycle.” These remarks were accompanied by the lecture about being more responsible for his things. (How many of you remember that lecture?)
In any event, for John the ideas of how to deal with loss were now compounded. Once again it was: don’t feel bad and replace the loss. John was a little boy; it did not dawn on him to question his parents wisdom. even though he did not feel good about the dog, and,later, the bike, he accepted his parent’s advice as the truth. After all, where else would he learn how to deal with his feelings?
Toys and Dolls – Gone but not forgotten
Many of you will have had the awkward experience of throwing away a toy belonging to your child, only to see him or her have a large emotional reaction. You may have been unable to retrieve the prized possession. In the escalating emotional climate, a sure way to make a bad situation worse is to tell your child that she shouldn’t feel the way she feels.
It is never helpful to tell a child not to feel the way she feels. To do so implies that there is something wrong with her for having a certain emotion.
Instead of directing your child away from his or her own emotional reality, it would be more helpful for you to share your observations about what might be more accurate for your child. “I can see that you re very upset that your doll is gone. you really over that doll, didn’t you? I’m sorry that I threw it away.”
Chances are, you probably threw the doll away because it had been tucked in a closet or in the garage and your child had not seen or played with it for a long time. Yet the fact that it was out of sight or unused is irrelevant. Many parents make the mistake of insisting on an intellectual idea – i.e. “You hadn’t played with the doll in months” – as opposed to acknowledging the child’s emotional truth – “You really loved that doll.”
Acknowledgement is the Jewel
The right and wrong of a story are intellectual concepts. The feelings associated with a story are emotional.
You must hear and acknowledge the emotions
before you address the facts of the story.
If a child brings the same issue up over and over, it is because their feelings have not yet been heard.
From the book. . When Children Grieve written by John W James and Russell Friedman with Dr. Leslie Landon Matthews
There is help . .
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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®