Why it is Ok to Mourn Loss of Experiences
Tips for you and your children on dealing with disappointment
I think it’s fair to say that 2020 has been the year of disappointment and even with a vaccine on the horizon that disappointment feels never-ending. Everything from birthday parties, family events and concerts to school, sports, and well, normal life has been canceled. And, now as the holiday season is in full swing, you might be feeling an extra punch to the gut over the loss of experiences.
Whatever You are Feeling is OK
You are probably feeling a whole slew of different emotions — sadness, grief, anxiety, depression, guilt, fear, regret, hope, and gratitude, to name a few. Whatever you are feeling, it is ok. It is ok to be upset at everything that isn’t happening. It is ok to grieve and mourn the loss of experiences. Grief isn’t just something you feel when you lose someone you love, it can be a healthy part of healing from any traumatic experience—something 2020 has given us a fair share of. If you are struggling with accepting the emotions you are feeling, give in. Let yourself feel so you can heal and keep moving forward.
Besides allowing yourself to feel, what are some other ways for you and your family to deal with all this disappointment?
Remember, Anxiety is Contagious
When trying to help your children as they struggle through all their disappointment, it is important to remember that anxiety is contagious. If you are stressing over all the things your children will pick up on it. But, the same is said for feelings of calm. If you have a calm demeanor your children will feel that and will likely be able to process things easier.
This is why it is important to check-in with yourself frequently. Take the time to process your own emotions and find your calm before addressing your children—that way you can approach the situation as calmly and level-headed as possible.
Acknowledge that whatever feelings you or your children are feeling is normal and completely acceptable. When your child is sad that they can’t have a birthday party or playdate, name their emotions — “you are sad, and that is ok.” Explain they are not alone. Everyone is dealing with severe disappointment right now.
It is also important to remember that a child is at a different developmental stage than an adult. Using the bigger picture to explain why things are the way they are to your child is likely not going to be well received. Saying things like “we need to stay home so hospitals don’t get overcrowded” is not something a child will understand. Children’s worldview revolves around them, their friends and family.
Embrace the Learning Opportunity
In every difficult time, there is a silver lining. Your child is learning a lot of valuable skills for managing stress and disappointment. They are learning how to be flexible and more resilient than ever. Use this time to teach them healthy ways to face their emotions. Teach them about self-care, talking or writing things down, and how to calm down when upset.
Be Each Other’s Sounding Board
Being a listening ear for your children and other family members is the most important thing you can do for each other. Talk out your frustrations. Validate each other’s emotions. Then, focus on something fun you can do instead— make breakfast for dinner, play a board game, paint or do other crafts, movie night, build an epic pillow fort, or spend some time outside.
Use what resources you have to find ways to connect with those outside of your home. Set up virtual gatherings. Check-in with those you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Plan for the Future
Having something exciting to look forward to can be a huge help in getting through hard times. Right now making plans for the future may seem futile but things won’t be like this forever. Check out some fun vacation spots and start saving for a trip you may be able to make when things start to clear up. Make a list of experiences you want to do in the future. Focus all that grief energy on something productive and fulfilling.
Self-care is important all the time but even more so during times of high stress. The best thing you can do for yourself and others in your life is to take care of you. Spend some time doing things that bring your joy. Go for a walk, take a bath, read a book, cuddle up with a movie, chat with friends, plan an at-home date night with your partner. Also remember to take care of your health, get sleep, eat well, avoid overindulging in alcohol or unhealthy foods that are just going to make you feel crummy.
Seek help when you need it. Consider doing some online therapy with a counselor or therapist. They can help guide you through your disappointment and grief.
And, remember this is just a blip on the story of your life. You will get through these hard times.
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Counselors at CW Psychological Services are professionally-trained and licensed. We have openings for online, or telehealth, therapy appointments. Email us at [email protected] or call at (610) 308-7575. We are here for you.