17 Apr What Am I Searching For?
Living With Grief & Healing
The Search Is On
I was at a PRIDE foster parent training a few weeks ago and the lead facilitator mentioned a child going from room to room and searching, crying uncontrollably, for a few days after being placed in her new foster home. My heart broke for this child. At the same time my mind and heart took me back in time to me searching through drawers after my husband Donald died twenty years ago. For the life of me I could not figure out why I was searching through every drawer in the house—and why I could not stop. After a few days I decided that I was hoping that Donald had left me a note. However, this did not make sense because he had no clue that he needed to leave me a note. Because he had no idea that he would die suddenly from a heart attack.
My answer came when one of my father’s friends, a psychologist, stopped by to see how I was doing. I mentioned my obsession with searching through drawers and how confused I was. He explained to me that I was Looking For Donald! Just like the child looking in every room of her new foster home for her parents. Searching for what was lost. Searching for the one that we love is a normal grief response! And the good news, he assured me, was that I would eventually stop doing it. It’s always a good thing when you find out that you are not losing your mind!
We Grieve All Loss
Whether you are a parent, child, teenager… and are dealing with death, divorce, foster care placement or even empty nest… Grief is grief. We grieve all loss to one degree or another. If your child is searching from room to room or searching through the neighborhood—go with them. Comfort him or her. If your child or the child that you are caring for can verbalize his or her feelings and wants to talk, listen. Part of the healing process is finding words that are descriptive of the way that you are feeling, speaking those words out loud and knowing that you have been heard. For a young child their tears are their words—and sometimes this holds true for big people too.
Talk To Your Pets
If you find yourself digging through drawers or driving around in your car searching with no destination—comfort yourself in a healthy way. (This is not the time to add more grief into the mix by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.) Talk about it—and believe it or not, talking to pets and the walls of your house works too. Write about it. End your writing by redirecting to the positive by stating how normal this is and that you know that the need to search will eventually diminish.
Healing Forward Action Steps
Instead of getting stuck in the muck of grief, redirect your thinking by getting out and doing something. Go to a movie, do some yard work, clean your house, paint your fence, take a trip to the market for healthy food. For a child you can arrange a play date, go to the park, play blocks together… be healthy and be creative.
A Child’s Heart
Children grieve. Sharing age appropriate information with them about the grieving and healing process can normalize their experience and reduce anxiety. Reducing their stress level reduces your stress level.
As we go they follow.
Healing & Blessings, Linda