Beth Erlander, MA, LPC, ART is a body-centered art and play psychotherapist who works with children, adolescents and adults. Her main emphasis is helping people deal with life’s transitions. Having recently survived a huge loss herself, she offers experience on how to keep going when life is unbearable.
Tell us more about your upcoming presentation for GSN’s Moving Through Grief… Together meeting:
Children often get left behind or left out of grief, or rather mourning. Some people are afraid to grieve around their kids, and yet we must include them. My talk will give participants ideas of how they can include children in grieving and what is appropriate to say to a child, depending on their level of development. This topic is so important because, if we know our children are actively grieving, then as parents or caretakers we can relax ourselves, which then helps us to grieve in a fuller way.
I hope people will leave this meeting with peace of mind, knowing that they have tools to help their kids grieve. There will be a handout of resources and I will also be talking about red flags to pay attention to regarding children’s grief. Parents will come away with either knowing they are on the right track, or they have some work to do, or that they need to seek outside help.
Share an experience or story about grief and transformation:
I have been living with grief and loss since August of 2012 when my partner fell on his mountain bike and broke his neck-he now is a quadriplegic. My life is a testament to saying YES to loss and moving forward. I have experienced shock and continued cycles that come with the grief process. I also know that it is possible to experience joy eventually and to feel like yourself again. Life delivered a truck full of lemons to me and I have made lemonade, and lemon cake and lemon cookies, and lemon merengue pie, etc.
Share one way that YOU practice self-care:
Slowing down is the best way to take care of yourself when you are grieving. A simple way of doing this is to get good rest. However, there were many nights that I didn’t sleep so instead of making myself more miserable over this, I chose to focus on being horizontal and resting into my bed and allowing my body to feel heavy. I even started sleeping with a rock to help ground me. Any grounding practice can help…but slowing down is so good for the nervous system and your kidney-adrenal system of the body.
Provide a few focus questions for our community to meditate on and discuss in our group sharing after your presentation:
- Am I actively mourning? How you deal with grief and loss is the biggest barometer for how your child will deal with it.
- Do I need more support and/or where am I stuck in my grieving process?
- How comfortable are you at admitting to children,”I don’t know”? Can you acknowledge that you may not have all the answers that they may ask about the death or loss?
- What messages did you receive about death and loss when you were a child? If you had negative experiences, what did you need then?
- How are you recognizing/supporting your kids with loss? What are you noticing about their behavior, etc.?