This spring has left us as a nation in a strange limbo. We have had to deal with uncertainty and instability. Some families have been lucky to be able to embrace these circumstances whole-heartedly and find the silver-lining in their slowed-down days. For other families, struggle has been at the forefront and uncertainty has cast its shadow over this time. In either circumstance, know that it is okay for you and your children to experience a broad spectrum of emotions.
Here at The WARM Place, we have what we call our “WARM Place Traditions” to help guide our groups and ensure a safe environment where everyone can feel free to share and express themselves. Two of our most important traditions center around sharing feelings:
It’s okay to be sad and cry
It’s okay to be happy and laugh
Society often tells us that grief can only look one way – a significant, but finite, period of mourning, where tears are accepted and expected. This fails to account for each griever’s unique set of feelings and circumstances. Our motto at The WARM Place is that everyone’s grief is unique and that all feelings are accepted. Grief is not synonymous with sadness, but rather an “umbrella term” that encompasses any feeling we have relating to the loss of our loved one. Grievers can often feel guilty in those first moments of pleasure or joy following a death.
Similarly, at this uncertain time, your family may be grappling both with grief and trying to navigate the new circumstances of stay-at-home life. There is no right or wrong way to do this. On any given day, it is okay to feel at your wit’s end and shed a tear, and it is okay to find joy in the little things.
A common thread shared among children and adults alike in group is that no matter how they are doing in the months following a loss, they don’t feel like they are grieving “right.” They are told with surprise that they seem so “fine!” by friends or colleagues. Or, after a few months have passed, people may make comments inquiring why they are not “over it” yet. At The WARM Place, there is no timeline for grief and no right or wrong way for group members to feel or express their feelings. Part of the comfort of joining our groups is being accepted, wherever you are in your grief.
When people think of grief support, they often picture a room of people crying together. While crying is accepted and welcome here, that is not all we do! In our groups, you will frequently find children sharing about happy memories with their loved ones, laughing about trips to the beach, or grinning as they craft something using their loved one’s favorite colors to honor their memory. Grief is not just one thing.
A quote shared in one of our groups rings true,
If I can see pain in your eyes, then share with me your tears. If I can see joy in your eyes, then share with me your smile.” – Santosh Kalwar
Today, accept the challenge of meeting yourself where you are at, without judgment. Allow yourself and your children to experience the whole spectrum of emotions and know that, however you’re doing it, you’re doing it right.