When Children Grieve – What is Grief, Anyway?

What is Grief, Anyway?

Throughout the series we have used the word grief several times.  Perhaps we should define the word for you, in the interest of clarity and mutual understanding.  Many people associate the word grief only with physical death.

The Grief Recovery Institute . .

uses a much broader definition that encompasses all loss experiences.

Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by a change or an end in a familiar pattern of behavior.

Various losses

As you will recall in the previous blog the list of losses included the death of a pet, death of grandparents, moving, divorce of a child’s parents, and death of a parent.  Each of those losses represents a massive change or end from everything familiar.  With death, the person or pet that has always been there is no longer there.  With moving, the familiar place and surroundings are different.  divorce alters all of the routines in a child’s life: it often includes changes in living situations and separations from extended family members and friends.

Defining conflicting feelings

The losses we have listed carry with them the obvious emotional impact that we can all imagine would affect our children.  But our definition of grief includes the idea that there are conflicting feelings.  The concept of conflicting feelings requires a little bit of explanation.  If you have ever had a loved one who struggled for a long time with a terminal illness, you may have had some feelings of relief when the person died. the relief usually stems from the idea that your loved one is no longer in pain.  At the same time, your heart may have felt broken because he or she was no longer here.  So the conflicting feelings are relief and sadness.

Moving also sets up conflicting feelings.  We may miss some of the familiar things that we liked about the old house or neighborhood, and at the same time really like some of the things about the new place.  Children are particularly affected by changes in locations, routines and physical familiarity.

Obvious and hidden losses

Death, divorce and even moving are obvious losses.  Less apparent are losses having to do with health issues.  A major change in the physical or mental health of a child or a parent can have dramatic impact on a child’s life.  And even though children are not usually directly involved with financial matter, they can be affected by major financial changes, positive or negative, within their family.

Society has identified more than forty life experiences that produce feelings of grief.  at the Grief Recovery institute we have expanded that list to include many of the loss experiences that are less concrete and thus are difficult to measure. Loss of trust , loss of safety, and loss of control are the most prominent of the intangible but life-altering experiences that affect children’s lives.  Intangible losses tend to be hidden and often do not surface until later in life, through therapy and other self examinations.

Exploring in detail

As we move on, we will explore in detail the most common losses that occur in the lives of young children.  there is no predictable sequence to the occurrence of painful events.  in fact, you may have been drawn to “When children Grieve” by an extraordinarily uncommon loss that has affected you and your children.

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®