Grief is our natural healing response to the loss of someone or something that we had loved or when we are faced with extreme change. It is a complex process, not an event, proceeding in stages from initial shock and chaos through adaption on to acceptance and transformation.
CHILDREN GRIEVING IN DIVORCE
Children feel the need to believe that their parents will get back together, or will change their mind about the divorce.
Example: “Mom and Dad will stay together.”
Children feel the need to blame someone for their sadness and loss.
Example: “I hate Mom for leaving us.”
In this stage, children feel as if they have some say in the situation if they bring a bargain to the table. This helps them keep focused on the positive that the situation might change and less focused on the negative, the sadness they’ll experience after the divorce.
Example: “If I do all of my chores, or maybe if I do everything I’m supposed to, then he won’t leave.”
This involves the child experiencing loss when they know there is nothing else to be done, and they realize they cannot stop the divorce. The parents need to let their child experience and express their loss in a safe and supportive manner in order to resolve this process of grieving. If they do not, it only slows their child’s ability to cope with the situation.
Example: “I’m sorry that I cannot fix this situation for you.”
This does not necessarily mean that the child will be completely happy again. The acceptance is just moving past the depression and starting to accept the divorce. The sooner the parents start to move on from the situation, the sooner the children can begin to accept the reality of it.
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