30 November 2018
I have noticed that sometimes the terms ‘grief’ and ‘loss’ only get used for significant changes in life. I’ve been wondering what happens when we do not acknowledge the smaller losses and don’t take the time to grieve them?
I have noticed that there are lots of losses that children experience. Loss of friends. Loss of a teacher. Loss of an older sibling moving away. Loss of their family unit. Loss of leaving a church or community. Loss of moving house. Loss of their childhood. Loss of a relationship. Loss of a future they imagined they might have.
We cannot possibly stop children and adolescents from experiencing loss in life... so how can we be gentle with children and adolescents as they grieve their losses? How can we model grieving for children and adolescents? What losses haven’t we acknowledged ourselves? What loss was never acknowledged when we were children?
How can we acknowledge the loss and ALSO look for what can be gained in every change?
Though not an exhaustive list, children will benefit from:
• Hearing the truth
• Being included in grieving rituals
• Having role models who demonstrate healthy expressions of grief
• Being respected for their individual grief response
• Compassion and acceptance
• Permission to talk or not talk about the loss
• Being seen as capable of adapting to loss
As my time at Avondale School comes to an end I want to acknowledge the sadness I feel as I say goodbye to students and the sense of loss knowing that relationships have to come to an end. I am immensely grateful for the privilege and honour of being invited into each student’s world. I have tried my best to be a safe place and an advocate for them.