Interacting with Your Kids While You Grieve
Parenting can demand everything out of you. At the same time, grief can seem to take everything out of you. How can you continue to be the parent you need to be if you are grieving the loss of your spouse? Or your mother? Or your brother?
Everyone grieves in their own way, so everyone will respond differently. However, most parents will find it hard to stay present with their children while they are handling profound grief. And that grief can start long before their loved one has died, such as when the person enters Gilbert hospice care or even when they get their initial diagnosis.
You don’t have to try to do it all when you are processing your grief. You need to give yourself some grace and make baby steps in your recovery. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to interact with your children and maintain your connection while you are processing your grief and helping them with theirs:
Enjoy Activities at Home
You may feel so despondent that you don’t want to leave the house and be around a lot of people. But spending time with your children can be restorative for both you and them, and there are plenty of activities you can enjoy at home.
Make art together by coloring, painting, or cutting shapes out of paper and gluing them together. Get out the play dough and create some fun sculptures. (Simply kneading the dough will also give you some stress relief.) Even doing house work can get your mind off things and give you an opportunity to spend time together. Plant a garden, paint a bedroom, or build a dog house. Stay busy, and do it together.
Take a Class Together
Leading activities may require more energy than you have. In that case, you can take a class together out in the community. All you have to do is listen to instructions and follow along as you feel able.
You can take a painting class together, something with pottery, or a cooking class. Just get out of the house for a short time and do something together. Sign up for whatever you have the energy for and the interest to hold your attention.
Sometimes, helping others through their hard times can take your mind off your own troubles. Volunteering can help you do that, and it can help you teach your children about the importance of helping others.
Deliver meals to seniors. Make blankets for newborn babies in intensive care. Put together backpacks for the homeless. Do whatever makes the most sense for the time you have available and the maturity level of your children. Avoid activities that could remind you of your loss, such as visiting seniors in a long-term or Gilbert hospice care facility, which may have been where your loved one was before dying.
Traveling can really get you outside of your routine – as well as all the things that can trigger your grief. You don’t have to plan a big trip that will be emotionally and financially taxing and could make matters worse for you. Instead, plan small excursions around where you live, such as day trips to nearby cities or weekend trips to surrounding states.
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Make your vacations as low-key as possible. Don’t create a strict itinerary, and don’t try to fill your time with activities. Have fun exploring with your children. Let them take the lead where possible. It will give them a greater sense of agency, and it will take the pressure off you.
You don’t have to spend all your time on some activity or another. Your children only want you. Your presence is enough. It is perfectly OK to do nothing more than sit together and talk. In fact, it’s just what your children may need if they are having a hard time processing their own grief or understanding what has happened.
Let your children talk freely, and don’t try to manage their feelings for them. Don’t feel as if you have to have all the answers or know how to make things better for them. All you need to do is listen and validate their feelings. It’s also helpful if you share some of your own feelings with them – in as much as is appropriate for their level of understanding and maturity.
Grieving is hard for everyone, and it can be made even harder when you are trying to be there for your children and fulfill your responsibilities as a parent. You don’t have to be the perfect Pinterest parent, nor do you have to plan an elaborate vacation to Disney to make them happy. These simple things will be enough to help you connect and to get through the grieving process together.
At Americare Hospice and Palliative Care in Gilbert, we do much more than provide compassionate hospice care near Gilbert for those facing the end of their lives. We also offer grief counseling and other services to help the whole family through the end-of-life transition and the grieving process. Contact us today in Gilbert to learn more about hospice care or our counseling services.
1212 N. Spencer St., Suite #2
Mesa, Arizona 85203
Office: (480) 726-7773
Fax: (480) 726-7790