As we are well aware, COVID-19 has taken the whole world by storm and has fundamentally changed the lives of children and families. And according to health experts, our ‘new normal’ may be with us for quite some time yet.
You may have noticed in yourself or your kids these last weeks a lot of different emotions – perhaps a feeling of heaviness, anger, sadness, or a ‘pit’ in your stomach. According to grief expert David Kessler, these feelings are likely grief. Collectively, we are grieving the life we have lost: Routines, seeing friends or extended family members face to face, going to school, social or sporting events – or perhaps a loved one due to COVID-19. Kessler goes on to say that “Change is actually grief, and grief is a change we did not want”. The good news is there’s a few ways that we can help each other process grief:
Name it as grief
Naming it allows us to be sad, cry, and acknowledge our losses. We need to be able to create space to feel our emotions as suppression does not work in the long term.
Stay in the present moment
Sometimes it’s hard to not think about all the ‘what if’s’ of the future. Instead, we can remind ourselves and our children about the good things we have right here, right now: A safe home, enough to eat, a school community who helps support us, etc. I have found it personally helpful to write in my gratitude journal daily about all the ways I have seen God’s provision for my family and those in my community. It’s also very helpful to think of others during this time and to check in on them. “Do you have enough groceries, or can I drop some fresh fruit and veggies off on your porch?” “Can I read your child a book this afternoon on Zoom while you grab a cup of coffee”? I’ve heard of neighbours forming text group chats to check in and offer to share resources with each other.
Understand what we have control over, and what we do not
It’s often a helpful exercise to write these things down, and then ask God to help you process them. Some find The Serenity Prayer helpful with this: “God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Showing grace to each other and being kind is essential
It’s important to remember that grief may not show up as “Hey Dad, I’m hurting, and I want to talk”. It could look like a child refusing to do a simple task that was asked of them, having a short fuse, or defiance. At times like these, it’s especially important to remember that our children are giving us a window of what’s going on inside them, and to respond with kindness, calmness, and empathy.
Remember that the JKCS counsellors are here to support your family during these challenging times. We can be reached at: JKCScounsellingadmin@johnknoxbc.org
Article – That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief
Article – Children’s grief in quarantine may look like anger
Video – Parenting Through A Pandemic – Dr Gordon Neufeld
Video – We Are Grieving The World We Have Now Lost – David Kessler