Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Child's Time to Grieve

As an adult, in a dangerous situation, we put the oxygen mask on ourself first, and then we give it to our child. Well, widowhood was like a disaster that hit my life. In the first year of grief, I needed everyone else's help before I could help my children. My daughters, 6 and 7 at the time, not only didn't have a father that first year, but their mother was absent as well.

I felt depleted. I was emotionally unavailable to them and wrapped up in my own grief. The little sense I did have, I made sure they met with their school counselor. I had no idea how they were processing their grief and if they were even doing ok.

We also had some family conferences with the guidance counselor. My daughters were able to talk about their feelings. The counselor reassured me that they had a healthy understanding of what happened. This relieved me since I had been consumed with my own thoughts. Even though we lived under the same roof I had no idea how my children were coping.

I kept going that first year mainly on faith. I didn't feel death was final when I had hope in eternal life. I know my girls heard me say that alot. I also think God was carrying them that first year. I imagined they were cradled in His arms as a protecting Father until I was well enough to meet their physical and emotional needs. I think the spiritual needs were covered.

Once the first year of widowhood was behind me, I felt stronger. I thought more about my children's needs. My oldest daughter attended a weekend hospice camp, for children who had lost a loved one. The day I picked her up they had closing ceremonies. Each child shared an experience from the weekend. I didn't know whether to feel happy or sad for them. It was tragic these children suffered a loss but fortunate that they found joy again.

The following year, both my girls attended the hospice camp and also went to a children's eight week hospice grief support group. A counselor told me it can take children up to four and a half years to work through grief. So after the first year of it being ALL ABOUT ME, for several years after it was then ALL ABOUT THEM. There were times I was ready to move on, to new goals and relationships, but I backed up and sacrificed moving forward until my children caught up.

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