I remember a parent from the TNSM community sharing with me that our community will be going through the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) again and again at different times throughout the pandemic.
- Denial: It’s terrible the pandemic is affecting so many people, but WE won’t be touched by it.
- Anger: Why can’t people figure out how to fix this or tell us what to do?!!!
- Bargaining: Can I wear a mask when I go into public places, but have my friends and family over with no precautions?
- Depression: I am just so tired of this.
- Acceptance: Well, I don’t think we are there yet.
In my many conversations with parents, staff, and other Heads of School, I have seen this cycle repeat itself over and over, just as this wise parent predicted. It has helped to understand that these stages are natural and even necessary as we process what is going on around us.
There are three tools I read about that have come in handy when dealing with one’s own grief or when helping others going through it.
- Avoid rescuing or fixing. People who are grieving do not need to be fixed. Although the intention is good, this approach can leave people feeling that their pain is not seen, heard, or valid.
- Don’t force it. We may want so badly to help and for the person to feel better, so we believe that nudging them to talk and process their emotions before they’re truly ready will help them faster. This is not necessarily true, and it can actually be an obstacle to their healing.
- Make yourself accessible. Offer space for people to grieve. This lets the person know we’re available when they’re ready. We can invite them to talk with us but remember to provide understanding and validation if they are not ready just yet. Remind them that you’re there and not to hesitate to come to you
Please know, we are here for you and your children. We are accessible and ready to listen. There is a book I have been reading to my daughter (age 5) that I absolutely LOVE. It is a simple and wise approach related to the tools I mention above. The book is called, The Rabbit Listened, by Corrie Doerrfeld. If you click on the link, you can listen to a reading of the book on Amazon.com. I highly recommend the book. It’s a powerful reminder of how to approach others who are grieving and an appropriate read for any age.