Grieve Alone – A Closer Look
Since the book, “When Children Grieve” is about the well-being of children, let’s start with infants to see if the idea of grieving alone seems true for them. When infants are in discomfort of any kind, what is the very first thing they do? They cry out for help. They do not “keep a stiff upper lip.” They communicate at the top of their lungs that they are in need of some assistance. Loving parents respond to the call for help and try to deliver it. Built into the parents’ response is the idea that the infant is indeed not alone.
Imagine then, those same children, once they reach age five or six, being told “If you’re going to cry, go to your room.’ In other words, grieve alone. Or stronger comments, such as “Knock off that crying, or I’ll give you a reason to cry.”
You can understand what this might do to children’s sense of trust: to be told, when they are having a normal and natural emotional reaction to a life event, that it is not okay to have that feeling, Don’t feel bad, and if you insist on having that feeling, by gosh, we don’t want to see it, so go to your room and grieve alone.
Creating safety for children to express their entire range of emotions
We are not suggesting that maturing children must return to the state of squalling infant-hood to get the comfort they need. What we are saying is that it must be safe for children to express the entire range of their emotions.
Naturally, as children grow, there must be a change in how they communicate. It is the responsibility of the parent to understand and guide that change. If you, as the parent or guardian have never questioned whether or not “don’t feel bad” and “grieve alone” are valuable concepts, then you might have some difficulty in guiding your children effectively.
Reading this series is a strong indication that you want help.
You can’t really help your kids until you examine your own beliefs. If reading some of these ideas makes you aware that you have never taken a critical look at what you believe and are therefore passing on to your kids, please be gentle with yourself. It is not too late. as you change, your children will reap the benefits.
Since this chapter in “When Children Grieve” is about the myth of grieving alone, we now suggest that you consider communicating about what you are learning. This is an excellent chance for spouses to talk about ideas that they may never have discussed. If your spouse has died, perhaps this is one of the reasons you are reading the book “When children grieve.” Please be encouraged to talk with others, with family or friends. If you perpetuate the myth of grieving alone, both you and your children may suffer.
Recall the story from “Monkey See, Monkey Do” that of the nine-year-old boy whose dad had died – he would get up from the table and go to his room and close the door – just as he had seen his mother do. If these were singular events, and there were no long-term consequences, we would not spend so much time debunking each of these dangerous myths. But these aren’t singular events, and there are massive long-term consequences.
Do you think there might be an element of “grieving alone” impacting the divorce rate?
If you guessed yes, we’d have to agree. How many of you, male or female, have not known how to deal with the emotions of a situation? And slipped off to your room, or to the garage, or to ride around in the car, or to clean up the kitchen, or to putter in the garden? Are those actions the direct result of a lifelong lesson to grieve alone? Do these actions lead to a strengthening of the marriage, or to alienation and ultimately to divorce?
And how do those dynamics between spouses affect the children?
Whether the children observe them directly, as with the little boy who saw his mom leave te table and go to her room, or indirectly, as the result of the emotional aftermath felt by each of the parents, the children are affected. Please don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can hide things from your children. Even when they cannot identify what is going on, they know something isn’t right.
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®