Heal Your Gifted, Sensitive, Broken Heart and Ride the COVID Wave of Grief
Derailed beginnings, ends and rights of passage are breaking all of our hearts day by day,
as the pandemic goes on. How do we process the grief being created? How do we help our children to work through the complicated feelings they have but don’t understand? How do we make peace with the changes we must accept? What has COVID cost you? What have you lost? What are you grieving?
Life as we know it has changed so much in such a short time. Many have lost loved ones to sickness, lost jobs, and missed out on important moments and opportunities. There are milestones and rights of passage we plan for our entire lives that have been canceled or postponed indefinitely. We are feeling so much loss and disappointment while working to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy.
Even when times are uncertain and we’re scared, it’s important to find ways to celebrate and honor what is important to us. It’s okay if it’s not exactly what we were expecting. Feeling two conflicting feelings at once can be so difficult, yet so important. You can still move forward, and accept what is, while mourning what could have been. It’s part of the process.
1. It’s okay to acknowledge your pain and disappointment, and to give your children tools to process what they are experiencing too. Talking to another adult about your feelings can help you to find meaning and connection especially if you are an external processor. Children who process their feelings externally, need to talk too. They will need extra patience, empathy and support as they move through their grief. If you are also grieving, it is important your children or teens have the ability to connect with another trusted adult who can be a good listener in their time of need, as well as their friends.
On the other hand, those who are internal processors may not feel comfortable talking about their feelings, and have more difficulty verbalizing their experiences. That’s okay. Creative outlets can be very useful to help people who are more internally driven to process what they are feeling. Drawing, journaling or otherwise creating can give meaning to painful experiences and the ability to work through hard feelings. Allow your child or teen to have privacy in their writing or drawing. They may feel more vulnerable if you are prying into their private worlds, and may be more reluctant to use these helpful tools.
Younger children often express their emotions and experiences through creative play. You can help them by entering into their imaginary worlds with them, and helping them to work through their pain using whatever stories the two of you can create together.
2. If you have lost loved ones, you and your family may feel closer to those who have passed by remembering positive experiences you shared. Looking at pictures, sharing stories and watching videos can preserve positive memories and can help you and them to feel connected to the person as well as others who loved them.
3. Many families are missing important milestones and rights of passage they have waited for their entire lives. It’s important to treat those days with importance. Don’t let meaningful moments pass without acknowledgement. Find ways to celebrate in a different way. And when possible, it can ease the depth of disappointment if you are able to continue with your original plans when the quarantine ends. It’s okay to grieve the loss of what would have been as you move forward to accept what is happening now. You can feel both sadness and joy at the same time.
4. Be patient with yourself and your loved ones. There is no set time for grief to pass, and it can come in waves. Different things can trigger a memory, that ignites a wave of grief at anytime. Being able to ride that wave and let it pass will help you and your loved ones to heal.
5. Do be aware of how you are processing your feelings in front of your children. While you may need to vent, yell or rip up paper, it’s good if you can do so in private. Your intense behaviors may be difficult for your children to understand and can put them in the position to comfort you, when they can barely manage their own feelings. Keeping this in mind, they may also need time to discharge negative feelings in a non-harmful way, without punishment or judgment from you.
6. When possible notice the positive aspects of your life and what you can feel truly grateful for. This can increase feelings of safety, hope for the future and appreciation of the moment you are living in now.
7. Connect with others, and help your children to do the same. Talking on the phone, through video chats or standing 6 feet apart, can help us to feel loved, and calmer over all. If you or your children are overwhelmed with intense emotion, you can also reach out to a caring professional in your area. Many people are providing effective online therapy throughout the world. Remember, we are in this together, and can help each other through.
About the Author: Christy, is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, practicing in San Diego, California. She has over 10 years of experience working with children, teens, parents, families, couples and individual adults with complex psychological and relationship problems. She specializes in the needs of gifted, bright and high achieving people, as well as those who have suffered past trauma. Christy uses an eclectic approach, meeting the needs of whomever she is working with. Her work addresses the needs of the whole person, incorporating mind and body.