Raising children takes a lot of energy and sacrifice even on a good day. When you are parenting while you grieve, it becomes infinitely more challenging. Everyone grieves differently. Personality, relationship with someone who dies, overall mental and physical health can all affect the way that you grieve.
Parenting is more than a job it is an entire lifestyle. In the same way that you can not take a day off of parenting you don’t get to always choose when and how grief shows up. When the loss of a loved one has occurred, grief can take over. If you are raising young children there is a double heap of weight on your shoulders. Parenting while you grieve can be one of the hardest things you ever have to do.
Parenting While You Grieve Requires Strength
Every good parent wants what is best for their children. So many sacrifices and mental and emotional strength is needed throughout the parenting journey. I had the question asked to me once, “what do you do when you are sick or have a migraine”? The answer was, the same thing as usual. Feed them, clothe them, drive them to school.
If you have experienced a major loss and have no choice but to parent as you grieve you basically have to become a superhero. A loss of a relationship that was meaningful to you is also important to your children. Not only do you have the responsibility of guiding and helping process the loss to the children you also have your own grief to manage.
When you feel as if the world is on your shoulders and grief is overtaking your ability to parent to the best of your ability there are some things to help you keep going.
It’s Okay If Your Children Know You Are Grieving
It is okay so show your children that you are sad. It is a very fine line because of course you do not want the kids to feel more burden than they need. You have a great opportunity in allowing your children to see and learn how to grieve and how to talk about feelings.
Don’t Shoulder the Burden of Parenting While You Grieve Alone
Ask for help. Parenting and grieving are two places where it can be so hard to ask for help. You feel as though the burden is your own. Sometimes there is even a feeling of shame in asking for help because it feels like you are not capable of handling your own children or your own feelings. There is no shame in asking for or accepting help. Even if it’s just a night with a babysitter for the children.
Using Mental Toughness To Stay Strong
Athletes use mental toughness training when they are having a mental block. This is something that you can use to keep moving when you feel like you can’t anymore. There is a line a sports psychologist known as Doc Ali says, “robo, no emo”. It really just means that there are times in life where you have to shut off the emotions and be a robot to get things done without overthinking your way out of it.
I want to make it clear that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have emotions or that you should shut your emotions off altogether. It is very important to feel your feelings. When there are things that NEED to get done in regards to your children, this is when you use this technique.
Set aside 10 minutes, 30 minutes whatever amount of time and feel all your feelings and ask all your questions. When that time is up, take action and leave the overthinking for later. Take your kids to their sports practice or reply to an email from a teacher. Whatever you need to get done, put on your action pants and do it.
Don’t Forget Your Grief Support System
More than anything, have a support system around you. Friends to talk to or have a relaxing no pressure day. Family who you can reminisce about your lost loved one. Therapist or counselors to help you work through your trauma. Join grief support groups and take care of yourself.