Grief can be more about the presence of a vacancy than anything else. We grow accustomed to a loved one simply being there. Even with those individuals we don't see often, knowing that they are accessible to us is a comfort. When such comfort is lost, a space for grief is opened.
Grief is what's left when that which we have grown accustomed to is no longer there. If not addressed, it can seemingly demolish portions of the pathway of life's journey--grief has the power to destroy the bridges that connect developmental phases of life.
This is often why-- I believe-- children who grieve sometimes get stuck. If we're not careful, this is where the grieving get stuck as well.
When a young person loses someone they love, the world that they once knew no longer makes sense. As the natural progression of growth and development occurs, if we fail to help a young person navigate away from the point at which they were prior to their loss , then that young child--that young person--is forced to find her own way. And quite honestly, the comfort of staying the place that makes sense, is more manageable than moving on in a healthy way.
Death, grief, and loss are things that we really don't want to think about; it is, however, a part of everyone's journey. If you love a young person who is experiencing grief, don't ignore their grief by simply offering thoughts and prayers. Engage them. Acknowledge their hurt. Facilitate--at their respective pace-- forward motion. Do what you can to help rebuild the pathways and bridges that they may have believed were gone forever.
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If you're searching for a way to start a conversation about grief, death, terminal illness, or loss with a young person, check out my short novel, Pineapple Sugar--a labor of love: amzn.to/2LnScrL