Effects of Coping with Past Grief

This post will focus on losses over one’s life and the impact those may have on current losses.

Most children do not have memories prior to about age four.  Those children, who have experienced multiple losses or have some type of trauma, may as adults have missing pieces of their childhood memories.  Those children who lost a parent before the age three plus years of age will not be able to recall memories of their parent except what they have been told and through pictures.  For example, my husband’s mother was killed in a car accident when he was 2 ½ years old.  His paternal grandmother came and cared for him until his father remarried.  His maternal grandparents were very much a part of his life until they died.  His stepmother died suddenly after being in his life for five years.  His father remarried again.  His father visited his first wife’s parents and helped care for them.  His father and last stepmother were very wise and kept pictures and other mementos of his mother and stepmother.  So my husband has a sense of who these two mothers were and what they were like.  Having his mother’s parents in his life provided him with consistency and a sense of security.  Even though, they didn’t talk much about his mother.  Adults think they are helping the child by not talking about missing person in the child’s life.

Not all children have this kind of support.  Sometimes when the there is a remarriage and especially as other children are born.  The oldest may not have the kind of relationship with their stepparent that helps them to feel safe and secure.  So they not only have the loss of a parent, but the loss of security and perhaps the loss of their childhood.

Sometimes children are given messages that don’t let them grieve appropriately.  For example, they are told not to cry over a lost pet, we’ll get another one.  Sometimes when a parent loses a child or a child has a prolonged illness, the remaining child feels left out and knows that something is wrong but may be sent away to a relative.  Sometimes couples are so caught up in their own grief; they fail to help a surviving child deal with their own loss and grief.

Adults are given messages by others that interfere with their grieving process.  Friends and family members tell them to keep busy.  They are in a hurry for the person in grief to move on with their lives.  There is no specific time limit on healing from grief.  The simplest things may be a trigger and the tears are back again.  Another message that is prevalent is that grief is a private affair and the grieving person feels that they must grieve alone.  Everyone needs someone to share their grief with.

Groups are a great place for those in grief to share their pain and feelings.  They discover that they are not alone.  They realize that they are understood and free to share their own grief process.  Tears are welcome.  Groups  provide the tools to begin the recovery and healing process.  Group members receive the resources to continue their grief work after the group ends.