Parenting While Grieving
Parenting is a 24/7 job. You’re never really relieved of the responsibility of taking care of your kids. Normally, you gladly accept that responsibility, but when you are struggling to cope with the death of a loved one, it may be hard for you to attend to (or even perceive) your kids’ needs . . . and that can become a critical issue if your kids are grieving too. Read on for how best to parent while you are grieving.
1. Don’t deny your emotions, but don’t languish in them either. Strike a healthy balance. It’s ok to cry in front of your kids; in fact, it’s healthy to let your kids see that crying is normal, natural, and healthy under these circumstances. However, if you feel like curling up in a ball and sobbing uncontrollably, ask your spouse, family member, friend, nanny, or babysitter to watch the kids for a while so that you can retreat to the privacy of your bedroom to experience the more intense manifestation of grief. It’s ok to tell your kids that you need some private time to grieve, but letting your kids watch that intensity can be traumatizing to kids. That is to say that they can cognitively process what you are doing in your private time, but when they witness it, that experience can have an emotional punch of its own for them.
2. Communicate with your kids in an age-appropriate way about death and grief. Model for your kids how to cope with loss in as healthy a way as possible. Ask your kids how they are feeling. Are they too grieving the loved one’s death? If so, comfort and nurture them, bond with them through your shared grief. Are they troubled by what may or may not happen to a person after death? If so, talk with your kids about your faith or bring in your minister, priest, rabbi, or other representative of your faith to address death-related questions. Are they feeling abandoned by you while you grieve? Make sure your kids know that you love them and that things will return to normal again. As you grieve, your kids may feel like you are withdrawing from them. Ensure that they know you still love them . . . that you just need a little extra “me-time” to grieve. Reassure them that this will not last forever . . . that things will return to normal in due time.
3. Respond to your kids’ needs or ask someone to respond to them on your behalf. For example, if your kids are grieving, it’s a good idea to hug them and cry together. If they are experiencing the anger phase of grief (there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), it may be tough for you to cope with their anger while also coping with your own grief, so you may be well advised to ask for help. If you have a family member that your kids love, trust, and confide in, it may be time to call in that family member. Or you may choose to have your family go to individual counseling (not counseling for the family as a collective unit). Ask your closest friends or family members to act as secondary parents to your kids . . . to monitor your kids for signs of distress as you may not be able to pick up all the cues that you ordinarily would and to inform you of signs they see so that you or they can plan an appropriate response to their distress.
4. Grieve the life lost, but don’t forget to celebrate the life lived. Tell funny stories regarding things the lost loved one said or did. Recount heartwarming stories of times the lost loved one expressed love to you and your kids.
5. Try to maintain the kids’ normal routine as much as you reasonably can. Wake times, school schedules, meal times, and daily social connections are important to helping your kids cope. However, if your kids are struggling in their grief, they may need a little “me-time” just like you do. You will need to be responsive to that for an appropriate length of time. That may mean taking them out of school for several days to allow them time to grieve without all their classmates watching.
Parenting while grieving can be overwhelming. The tips above will help you more successfully parent while grieving.
For more useful tips; continue to visit Care4hire.com.