Guest Blog by Louise Creswick Grief & Loss Coach, NLP Practitioner, Bereavement Trainer and Mindfulness Teacher

02/09/2021 0 By Guest
Guest Blog by Louise Creswick Grief & Loss Coach, NLP Practitioner, Bereavement Trainer and Mindfulness Teacher

I’ve worked with many parents over the years, many of whom have one thing in common with their grief – they all ask me “how can I be strong for my children?” This is usually followed up with the rationale that they want to protect their children from witnessing the reality of grief and not wanting to be seen as a “weak” parent who can’t keep it together.

I get it because my mum did the same for me when I was younger. However, the impact of this meant that when she suddenly died and I finally had to face grief for myself (at the age of 25), I literally fell apart because I didn’t understand what was happening.

My answer to all parents who feel confused about how to grieve around their children is this; your default is to “be strong”, yet what your children want you to do is be open and honest.

Society and friends will have us believing that we all need to “stay strong” after a loved one has died. I can see why people say this in so far as the practical arrangements that need to be taken care of after somebody died. However, this type of statement totally overlooks the emotional aspects of grief. I know that on the inside, you may feel far from strong.

So here’s the thing… when you conform to these expectations and do the whole “I’m fine” routine you are hiding away your true experience. This results in being dishonest with yourself, as well as with your children. So you can choose to struggle on with the pretence that you are being strong, or you can simply be human. Experience tells me that your children want and deserve the latter.

Your children would like you to know that they have more emotional understanding and agility than you realise. It is possible that in an attempt to protect them from your grief that you will actually end up alienating yourself from them and creating weirdness in your relationship. Your children want to remind you that they have a sixth sense about these things and they will know when you’re being incongruent. For example, any feelings of sadness they have will reflect the changes they sense in you.

I hear your concerns (and possibly gasps) in terms of how you feel about displays of vulnerability. This is totally valid because it’s not something that comes naturally to human beings. That being said, I also know that your cautious behaviour can result in a breakdown of communication and you may become less present as a parent. Your children don’t need to be protected from loss and the pain it may cause because it’s a fact of life. What they want is for you to help them feel secure and cope in the healthiest way possible.

Bereavement changes you, so it’s inevitable that you won’t be the same parent as you were before. Accepting this fact is helpful and getting comfortable with sharing your new reality is part of the process – however long it takes.

I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting you should try to force your grief onto your children, or play out your experience through them, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed in your grief. What I’m saying is that your children need you to respect their capacity to share in your grief and for you to know when it feels right to do so. There is a balance between not hiding things and not worrying them either.

Aside from anything, you’ll be surprised at what you can learn from them in terms of resilience. Depending on their age and development, they may not fully grasp the complexities of your loss but it is important to allow them into your world – even just a little.

Your children want you to know that by giving them permission to be in your world (as precarious as it feels) is a way of holding onto your connection with each other. Whilst grief can feel all-consuming at times, it will not affect the bond you have with your children and you will adjust to life together.

Here are a few tips you may find useful:

• Help your children to understand that it is okay to have their own separate feelings which may be different from yours. For example, it’s okay for them to laugh and smile even if you’re not in that space right now.
• It’s important to use direct language about death and grief that cannot be easily confused or misunderstood (such as euphemisms).
• It’s better to share small chunks of information with children and build on it as and when they ask you questions about death and grief. Let them take the lead.
• Reassure your children that regardless of where you’re at, that not thinking about the person who has died all the time is okay, just as talking about them is okay too.
• Participate in joint activities designed to remember the person who has died if they are up for it (be guided by them). Check out Helen’s Memory Boxes here.

If you feel you would benefit from some additional support (and by the way, it’s okay to ask for help) then do seek out a trusted friend to talk to, or a professional. There are also family / play therapists who can work with you and your children together.

Much Love,

Louise 💜

About Louise

Louise is a Grief & Loss Coach, NLP Practitioner, Bereavement Trainer and Mindfulness Teacher. She is also the founder of The Bereavement Network for practitioners.

Her background is in psychology, and mental health. She is a city born-country girl, originally from Birmingham and now living in beautiful Shropshire with her husband and four legged office companion.

After experiencing significant losses in her life, Louise decided 4 years ago to focus on helping others with bereavement, grief and loss. She is also a trainee counsellor.

You can contact Louise, read about her story and access her resources on here website:

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