GRAND Magazine - Summer 2021 - 7
Ms. J began to sink into despair but then remembered that her pastor and a
good friend helped her overcome obstacles in the past. Even though she couldn't
see her pastor or attend services in person, she asked her grandchildren to show
her how to connect to her church online which provided comfort and solace, and
access to her spiritual community. She called her friend who was sympathetic but
direct and reminded her she had options. Instead of avoiding her painful feelings,
Ms. J returned to the idea that " If you can name it, you can tame it. " She realized
that facing grief could become less formidable and she could move from helpless
to helpful for her grands. They began to share memories of their mom, drew pictures
of her, read books about loss to normalize their feelings, and watched videos
of favorite family times together. The children shared their worries that they'd be
abandoned if their grandmother got COVID. She reassured them that everything
possible was being done to stay safe but there would always be a close family
member to raise them. These discussions and activities provided safe and shared
outlets for all even though adults and children tend to grieve differently. By taking
care of herself, Ms. J had more capacity to respond to the needs of her grandchildren
who coped so much better as a result.
So what can serve as protective factors to help families get through challenging
times? The following strategies can be very helpful.
* Stay connected and reach out if you need more support.
* It's okay to ask for help and there are many short-term therapies that are very
* Do what helps you feel safe and secure.
* When things feel unpredictable, build in routines, maintain structure and consistency
for you and your grands to counterbalance this.
* Separate what's in your control and what isn't.
* Rely on things that have helped you get through tough times before.
* Consider activities for your mind, body, and spirit that keeps you focused on
your well-being and that let you pause and breathe.
* Remember to exhale.
* Video chat with your close friends.
* Connect with your spiritual beliefs and community.
* Use your support networks, both informal and formal.
7 GRAND Summer 2021
* Join an online support group.
* Take free online technology training through AARP or other programs.
* Use expressive arts - writing, art, music, and dance- as outlets. Listen to your
favorite songs. Read a meaningful poem. Watch a dance performance. Create
a crafts project. Start a gratitude journal.
Click to continue reading
Deborah Langosch, PhD, LCSW, is a clinical social
worker, trainer, psychotherapist and consultant in
Brooklyn, NY. She has trained thousands of providers
in the areas of loss, trauma and bereavement as well as
on the mental health issues of kinship care families.
GRAND Magazine - Summer 2021
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