Losing a loved one is an awful life event for anyone, no matter your age. When family’s experience grief together, each family member can struggle with balancing their own grief process while working to support one another. It is important to understand the definition of grief and the grief process in order to find the delicate balance between personal grief and support grief.
By: Blake Neuhauser MA
What is Grief?
Grief is essentially how we process the ending of something that is important. Grief is the tangled ball of emotions that let us know that what we have lost is important to us. How people find a new normal is very different for everyone.
There is no clear-cut path to processing grief. If a parent and a loved one are experiencing grief together, the two experiences can be vastly different – even if they’ve lost the same person. Parents who are supporting a child who is grieving should remain patient. It can be difficult, especially if a parent is grieving along with their child. Parents need to allow themselves the space to grieve as well.
How to Help Your Child Grieve
When a child talks about their grief, you should be sure to validate their emotions, and ask open ended questions. It’s okay to get tearful when talking with your child about these things as it shows them that expressing emotions and sadness is ‘okay’; however, if you find you become too emotionally dysregulated (weeping or hyperventilating) you may need to seek your own support first to be able to adequately support your child.
Additionally, keep in mind that depending on the age of your child, grief may come out more behaviorally rather than emotionally. It is not uncommon for a child to have more temper-tantrums, outbursts, and misbehavior when they are grieving. These behaviors are just the tip of the iceberg and likely what’s underneath are all the emotions they are feeling including grief, sadness, anger, confusion, or fear.
Lastly, be aware of compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is when a person becomes negatively affected by trying to care of others. Be sure to make space for yourself, your own emotions, and practice self-care in order to combat feelings like these.
You Don't Have to Grieve Alone
Grief is processing the loss of someone important and finding a new normal. Helping others find this new normal can be extremely challenging. If you or a loved one feel that grief has become too difficult and overwhelming to bear on your own, please contact Crosswinds. We are here to help and we offer both individual, marital, and family grief counseling.