Dear MaD advice:
I am a mother of two teens and we have recently had a series of deaths of friends and family. I feel completely inadequate in responding to my own grief and my kids’ grief. How have you handled this?
To parents: Though I have never been a parent, what I do know is how my parents responded to death when I was a child and teenager, and how that helped me grieve, heal and ultimately obtain a more logical and in turn spiritual view of death and the grieving process. You should know that it’s okay to be sad and to admit that you’re sad. Showing your own emotional response in front of your kids allows them to feel secure in their own. What is more important is how you handle your emotions, and choose to cope. The stages of grief are vast - you’re allowed to feel angry, you’re allowed to be in denial and feel despondent, but acting out on those emotions negatively (being short tempered, drinking too much, etc.) is not okay. Sorrow is different for everyone, and there isn’t a right or wrong way to feel when something as monumental as death happens. It takes time, and for some longer than others. Having an open window of communication is imperative, and teaching your kids the proper way to handle these emotions is paramount.
To teens: Our family has been through a lot of deaths as well, and almost all of it happened when I was in my late teens. I will tell you this: the extreme emotion you are feeling - it does pass. And when it does, don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t associate your negative emotion with how much they meant to you, or how close you two were. The fondest memories will stay, and that is what you want to remember. Tears are always welcome, and may surprise you at times. As humans, we’re not always meant to understand our emotions, but rather try our best to turn them into something positive. I like to think that the loved ones I’ve lost would like the 25-year-old Anna, and if they could see me now, they’d be proud of me. Make them proud of you too.
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