Coping with Grief and Loss

My daughter Grace lost “Blankie.”  It was my blanket that I had as a little girl that I saved and gave to her when she was born.  The one she has to take on every trip and sleep with every night tucked under its silky ivory, low on fluff with tattered edges from all its use and wear.  She left it in a hotel room and we thought they had it, but then we found out they didn’t (cue fury, then rage!). I have watched her grieve over the past month since she found out it was really gone forever.  I was reading a Psychology Today article and it said grief happens when you lose something important.  Grace has cried over Blankie several times. She has told me in sadness, “there is no one to dry my tears now.” I have tried telling her “I am here, I want to dry your tears.”  And I’ve tried to step in…but I’m not Blankie.  And Blankie is irreplaceable.  And I am only human and at times having two kids crying and fussing about things makes me low on patience. Sometimes I get frustrated and short with her.  I don’t always stay soft, cuddly, patient and quiet.  My daughter has experienced a lot of transitions the last couple months – dental work (ouch and yuck!), starting all day Kindergarten, being away from her brother and I more, a new school, and a new teacher.  Blankie, that consistent source of comfort and love, has been dearly missed around here lately – especially in Grace’s heart. One of the hardest things about being a parent is seeing your child hurt or suffer.  While sometimes you can help and take the pain away, other times it is a process that they have to go through and you can’t take the pain away or go through it for them.  My own mom has let me know that this is not something we grow out of. There is a part of our hearts that always feels this for our children.  Using my idea, Grace worked on a picture and story, a tribute to Blankie.  It had a picture of her blanket, a sad face, tears, and it said “I miss you Blankie, you were important.”  It was the most precious and amazing thing. It made my heart so sad and so full at the same time.  I can’t replace Blankie and I can’t take away my sweet girl’s grief.  But I would if I could.  And while she is grieving and healing, I am trying to keep an open heart full of love and compassion and patience for her.  And we will both have to give both of ourselves some GRACE along the way. I am using this story of my daughter to talk about loss because I think it is powerful and something we can all relate to in some way.  Loss for you may be losing a loved one, a pet, a relationship, a partner, a home, a job, a friend or an opportunity.  Grief is something that can be worked through, but it is a process that cannot be rushed, moved over or around.  It is something that has to be felt and experienced to move through it, ideally with the love and support of others.  Sometimes those around us are able to provide us with that support and space.  Other times it is a great time to connect with a therapist who can provide that space, time and support as you work through your own grief and loss.  Please reach out if you would like someone to support and hold space for you and your grief along the way!

3 Tips for Coping with Grief and Loss

  • Make space! This means allowing and setting aside time that is free of distractions, work, people, kids, chores and obligations to think and feel and just notice what is happening in your mind, body and soul.  During this time you may want to close your eyes, practice deep breathing, meditation and/or write down or draw your thoughts and feelings.  If you are helping support a loved one with their grief, you can encourage them or help them to make space for it too and ask them what they are thinking and feeling.  Sometimes just listening and making space in a conversation to talk or not talk about the grief is a great help.
  • Know that what you are experiencing is probably normal.  Grief comes in waves and does not follow a specific order or set of steps. It is messy and sometimes you feel shock, other times anger and rage other times acceptance, then it can go back to sadness.  There is no right or wrong way to move through grief, just moving through it is the important part.
  • Reach out to your support system or create a new one.  Going through loss is something that we should not do all on our own.  Co-burdening our grief and receiving love and support from others as we learn to cope and process things is very important.  This could mean talking to friend, family member, attending a grief support group, or seeing a therapist who has experience working with grief.  Don’t go at this alone!  The bravest thing you can do is to reach out and connect with others.  This solidifies the belief that you are not alone in this.
    This Post Written By: Athen Fisher, MAS, LMFT, ICEEFT Certified EFT Therapist