June 1, 2016
Lots of parents everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief this time of year. School is out and summer is here! The break from school means (at least temporarily) no early morning rush out the door, making sure children are turning in assignments on time, finding lost homework, getting yourself to teacher conferences, getting your children to and from after school activities, and so on. For a couple of months, families can relax and enjoy some of the typical summer activities like swimming, amusement parks, vacations, and maybe just being lazy.
However, the reality for families coping with the death of someone is different. There is no summer break from grief. Families live with their grief every day of the year. On one hand, it’s great to have time off from school. But on the other hand, school can provide a routine and a sense of security for some children and families.
So how do grieving families have to say about coping with grief during the summer? No one way fits all. But here is what two parents who brought their children to Fernside shared:
It seemed that during the school year we were so busy with school, homework, sports, etc., that all our time was planned for us, and we were never alone. We would be in and out of gyms, and I would be conversing with other parents on a daily basis. Then all at once, everything stopped. It was during the “down time” that we were faced with accepting what had happened. To this day, I am still better with structure and routine versus idle time.~ Ann, husband died
My children were concerned about going back to school after summer because they thought their peers and teachers would treat them differently and they just wanted to fit in and be ‘normal’ – so we spent a lot of time talking about that. We also made it a point to set up a special time each week when we would talk about mom, how everyone was doing and just what was on everyone’s mind – me included. They were always interested in hearing what I was feeling and I think they took comfort in the knowing that I had many of the same feelings and challenges that they did. That weekly special time seemed to help a lot. Staying busy with sports, church and other activities was also important during the summer – again I think it helped them feel some sort of normalcy returning to their lives. ~ Todd, wife died
Here are some questions we use in our group discussions at Fernside that might help your family prepare for the summer ahead:
- How do you feeling about the coming summer months? How do your children feel?
- Have you and your children talked about plans for the summer?
- Do you have friends/family to support you and your children during the summer?
Even though the summer months can be stressful for grieving families, it can also be a time, for both you and your children, to slow down and take a break from the demands of the school year.