Today marks the month anniversary of my dad’s death. The past month has been a whirlwind of emotions, activity, and thoughts. There have been days where I’ve forgotten anything has changed and there have been days where I’m emotionally paralyzed and don’t know how to do anything, let alone take care of my precious boys. Not only am I processing my dad’s death, I’ve also been processing how to parent while grieving.
I know that time will lessen the pain and life will get to our new normal but that doesn’t necessarily help the here and now. It doesn’t help when my son wants to go ride his bike and I can’t get myself off the couch. It doesn’t help when we have pizza rolls for three nights in a row since I can’t bring myself to go to the grocery store. It definitely doesn’t help when my husband has to leave for a work conference for four days and I have to parent alone, not allowing myself to feel the pain.
Everyone goes through grief to various degrees and being a parent doesn’t change that. Maybe you lost your job… Perhaps you had a miscarriage… Maybe your house burned down… Everyone’s story looks different but everyone needs to know how to parent while in the midst of grief.
How to Parent While Grieving
Give Yourself Room to Feel
It’s so important to let yourself feel your grief. Bottling up the pain and hurt only makes it worse and doesn’t give you room to process and begin healing. If you are not in a place where you can begin healing, you are not going to be able to parent well. Sit in your grief so that you can begin working through it – for yourself AND for your children.
Ask for Help
In order to give yourself room to feel, you are going to NEED to get help. Maybe that help will be able to come from a spouse but, if your spouse is also working through the grief, you may need to reach out to parents, siblings, friends, or even professionals (counselors, pastors, nannies, etc). Ask people to take your children, ask people to bring you meals, ask people to let you process with them. You can’t be “on” for your kids while going through grief and others can help you carry that responsibility.
Accept the Change in Routine
While working through your grief, life is going to change. You may not want to get out of the house for a while. Your normal routine may simply be unmanageable. It’s ok to go through a season where your routine is totally shot. Don’t go to playgroup if you don’t want to. Don’t go to the PTA meeting if you can’t handle people for the moment. Do your best to give a lot of advance notice if people are counting on you but accept that this is the season you are in and that things are going to get back to normal eventually.
Give Age Appropriate Responses to Your Child
Your kiddos are going to notice that something is off. Depending on what you are grieving, you may or may not want to let your kids know what is going on. Take the age, maturity level, and sensitivity of your child into consideration and answer their questions carefully. Do your best not to lie to them but don’t overshare either.
Give Yourself Grace
All in all, this is a season. Grief is horrible and hard but it will get better (speaking to myself right now as much as to you). Give yourself grace for this season of life and allow the Lord to minister to your heart. Let yourself work through the grief however you need and then let yourself heal as well.
How have you worked through grief in your own life?
How to do you know what to share with your children?