It’s Just Emotions
You have probably heard us say this over and over again, but we have always emphasised the importance of talking with children about their emotions and how they are feeling. For our family this is particularly prevalent, as going through a bereavement can cause emotions that can sometimes be difficult to manage. We have done a previous blog post which focused on talking to children about death and bereavement, but we thought we would we would delve a little deeper into the aspect of this that evolves around emotions.
Managing your feelings following a bereavement can be very challenging, and for us personally, a little confusing. You go through such a wide range of emotions in such a short space of time, which can be hard to keep up with. The emotions range from devastation to hurt to anger to disbelief. As time goes on, those emotions don’t necessarily change, but they become less erratic. You recognise those emotions surfacing and are better prepared to regulate them. You have a better understanding of what can help you during those times; a bath, talking to a friend, having a cry, eating 238 doughnuts. This doesn’t make those feelings and emotions any easier, you just recognise them a little better.
Add supporting children’s emotions into that mix and you are nothing short of absolute chaos. So many emotions at the same time from different people.
The first step in supporting this, we think, is understanding. It may be hard to accept, but other people are not in tune with your emotions. People need time and space to process how the feel, and it’s essential that they are given this. This is turn can help them to understand what is it exactly they are feeling, and maybe even why. We also think it’s important for our Niece and Nephew to understand that their emotions are normal and expected. That it’s okay to feel a certain way, to show that and to talk to an adult about how they are feeling.We often use bedtime cuddles as an opportunity to do this.
We have never shied away from showing our own emotions to our Niece and Nephew. We want them to know when we feel upset about missing their Mummy. She was our Sister and friend and we miss her every single day. Obviously we are very conscious of doing this appropriately and considerately. But we want them to know that they are not alone. We understand what they are going through because we are going through it too.
One way to support children to understand and manage their emotions, which we have found to be really effective, is reading books. We have done a few book reviews about books that we have enjoyed reading as a family. A lot of the time, reading a book with our Niece and Nephew about loss and bereavement can begin a conversation around how we are all feeling. It gives us an opportunity to discuss things that might be on our mind and to share with each other.
One thing we don’t want to happen, that some people may not necessarily agree with, is that our Niece and Nephew not be genuine with their emotions. What we mean here is that if they are sad, and they say it’s because they miss Mummy, when actually they are sad about something else. Or visa versa. We think it’s important for them to be honest with how they are feeling and feel confident enough to be truthful. Children having emotional literacy can really help them to manage their emotions.
One things for certain; grief stays with you for a lifetime and the feelings and emotions that come with it are continuously evolving. We honestly think that being able to talk openly with children about how they are feeling will help them to express themselves confidently and manage their grief in a way that suits them.