I work with schools to help them create support programs for their students who are considered by some as “at-risk.” Others call these same students “at-promise.” The key is “resilience:” the ability to survive and cope with whatever life gives you and emerge stronger. We who promote the theory of resilience believe we can learn and grow through any life circumstance. We do not negate, justify, or excuse the horror of events like the massacre at Sandy Hook. We face the truth. But we also don’t give up on our dreams or compromise our values because of it; we become stronger. Key #4 helps you with that.
What to Do When Nothing Can Be Done.
4. Remember. We have all had our hearts broken. Few people look deeply into grief, though, without having had a major loss. Mine came as a young mother. My second child was born hydrocephalic. He only lived 4 1/2 months. In the aftermath of his death, my home fell apart. My 2 1/2-year-old son and I picked up the pieces of our lives and started over.
Leading up to what would have been Justin’s first birthday, my psychologist asked how I would spend the day. I said, “I’m going to close my eyes and hope, somehow, that the day will end.” He replied, “The day will happen whether or not you face it. If you could forget Justin, you could forget Jeff. You owe it to your living son to face the day and celebrate the child that graced your home, even though it was for too short a while.”
That began my life-long quest to believe that life, however short or seemingly hopeless, is worthwhile. It took completing what I refer to as my “grief work,” but I can honestly say today that I’m proud I got to be Justin’s mom...even for a little while. Writing my first book and crying a mountain of tears transformed Justin from my tragedy on earth into my treasure in Heaven.
We hesitate to talk about a sad event because we are afraid of our own tears and afraid of making others sad. But the alternative is what grief specialists call “Denial.” The natural grief stage of denial is the way we cope, but if it lasts too long we blind ourselves to the dangers and ignore the necessity of prevention. There is danger that copycat tragedies will occur. As horrible as the events like Sandy Hook are, we must remember them. If we don’t, we don’t set up mechanisms to deter them from happening again.
One thing I’ve learned is...the only thing worse than mentioning a lost loved one in a crowd that may bring sadness is remembering that person in a crowd, alone, and believing that you are the only one who misses your loved one or who cares.
You can’t forget, so plan to remember. Find a time each day...or week...that you can devote to your memories. Setting aside a special time will give you the strength to get through the rest of your day...most of the time.
As I promised, I will offer one pointer each day over the next few weeks for “What to do when nothing can be done.” Check the other entries or archives for what you might have missed. When school begins again in January, I will turn the focus to schools.
Lockett Learning offers a wide array of resources to help you and your children deal with grief. Thursday and Friday, we will offer our Kindle book Understanding Grief in Children as a free download.
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