Well, that last post was a 'fun' one. I'm all about the 'joys' of parenting here. Sigh...onto other things. Encouraging things...
Practical, Real, Tangible ways to facilitate grief. *disclaimer- not a pro, just a Mom with grieving kids.
Write down memories - allow them time/space/resources to write out what they remember. Don't disagree if it doesn't match what you were told. If old enough, let them write it down. Help them fill in the details if they ask. Be careful to not interfere in their memories with what you believe to be true. Give them prompts based on their story. Don't shy away from the hard topics. Ask them to write about daily details. Ask about people. Re made a book. A page for each family member. Stories about siblings, parents, the orphanage, and the process of coming home. We did this project during the summer. We had specific time to sit down and write. We were making a book. It was serious business. Rough draft, editing, publishing, illustrating, and binding. It gave weight to the importance of the memories. After writing on hard topics, we made time for the grief. For the push back, acting out, and were available. We didn't write the day we had doctor's appointments later. We made this project the priority for the weeks it was in process. There were many great conversations that came about. Questions asked, and room to answer in context of the whole story. And at the end, we turned a corner. There was healing in some significant ways.
Pray- Pray for the family they are separate from. If you know their names, pray for someone each evening. If you don't, pray for them by role. Don't know if they are alive, pray for their caregivers. Pray for their 'orphanage' siblings. Prayer moves the hand of God. And in prayer, they can feel powerful in a powerless situation.
Grief meltdowns-Grief looks different in every person. In every situation. I've grieved for my Mom very different than other losses in my life. Grief for a parent is different than other grief. No more, not worse, just different. Culture affects how we grieve. If they were allowed to grieve in the past, and how, will effect how grief shows up. Re grief showed up in meltdowns fueled by rage. This isn't anyone's fault, it's how he is equipped to deal with the raw emotions of loss. He starts out pushing back against us, his parents. He becomes passive. He starts to spiral around the issue. Some days we are just waiting for it to come. Grief is lurking out the door, but won't just open the door and come in. It wants an invitation. Yes, it's okay, now is a good time, come on it. Some days it burst open the door, and gets comfy on the couch, to stay awhile, before we've even taken a deep breath. But when he is spiraling, the only resolution is to grieve. It usually involves wailing, tears, trying to get away from us, tearing apart the room, and ending in a hollow stare and tears running down his face while we hold him. Then some time alone to recover. Time alone, but with us close. When this happens, this is all that happens. You turn off the stove, and dinner is late. You miss church, the soccer game, school event, and grief takes over. Thankfully, this cycle is less and less. By allowing the cycle to happen, it has allowed him to grieve the loss. Er's if different. It's over abundance of activity. It's a need for constant attention. The desire for a bottle, to be cuddled, to be right where you are, doing just what you are doing. It's the need to be close, really close, all the time. It's separation anxiety. And it's just beginning. It's listening to her tell her story over and over again. Trying to make sense. It's answering questions about whose tummy she came from daily. It's clarifying the unknowns over and over again. It's falling apart when someone doesn't want to play her game with her. It's taking rejection very personally. It's over reacting to being told no. It's an inability to deal with unpredictability.
Be present- this is hard. Hard because it triggers every grief you own. Don't shy away. Don't hold back the tears for your own lost, even in the midst of theirs. Don't give up and leave them to their own emotions. If you are exhausted, and can't do one more minute, then stop trying to control it, just sit in the room and pray for them out loud. If they are in the corner, completely shutting you out. Stay anyway. Sit in the room, even if you say nothing, your presence matters. They fear the grief. They need to see in you that the grief doesn't win. Yes, you leaving might make the meltdown end sooner. Our theory has been to let it take as long as it takes, but we aren't going anywhere in the meanwhile. Even if it's just sitting in the room, doing nothing.
Professional help- there is no shame in seeking out help. This parenting is not normal. You don't have the tools. You didn't sign up for this. If you don't see progress, get help. From some one who understands trauma, loss, adoption, attachment, and be willing to try something that feels strange. Different kids need different approaches. There is no one size fits all.
One year ago.
11 months ago