Every single day, I’m seeing news of another mass shooting. It’s not okay. And more than expressing our concern about gun laws, we need to have the conversations about grief.
All of us grieve after mass shootings. We are traumatized. But few acknowledge the significance of this grief, let alone address it. So we need to have the conversations. With ourselves, each other, our children.
Parents all over the globe want to protect their children. For many, this means shielding them from adult topics. But when is protecting actually harming?
Children Mourn a Shooting
This is the world we live in. These are the children of our future.
And children are smart. They absorb what’s around them and they know things are happening in this world. They know when adults keep things from them – and they don’t like it!
But do we know how they feel about other things? Do we know how they feel about their safety in the midst of chaos? Do we know how they feel at all?
We need to. We need to teach children that it’s ok to feel. And it’s ok to discuss our feelings so they learn NOT to sweep them under the rug.
Having the Grief Conversations
There’s no magic book or formula that teaches you HOW to have the conversations. Just don’t over complicate it. Be honest. Ask questions. Listen to the answers.
You can also lead by example, allowing yourself to share your own feelings. Kids can learn so much from adults acknowledging a bad mood, difficult moments, and the ability to get through them.
We don’t want to teach our kids that bad things don’t happen. We need to teach them how to deal with these things when they do happen.
And no matter what the issue may be – silence never helps. So talk about the uncomfortable things – don’t avoid them. Don’t encourage them to fake it until they make it or to push through their feelings.
Validate Their Feelings
Show them that their feelings matter. Even when you can’t do anything other listen. Especially when you can’t do anything other than listen.
Too often we make others defend or justify their feelings when what they actually need is to just be validated. Children need this validation – now more than ever.
They need to know that it’s ok to be scared. And that it’s ok to be sad. And that they’re not alone.
And it’s up to us to teach them. Let’s start right now. Together.
To read more by Samantha Ruth, visit www.samantharuth.com
To read more by Samantha on Open to Hope: https://www.opentohope.com/when-grieving-listen-to-yourself/