Teaching Our Kids How to Cope with Loss

I read a blog post a few days ago on a great dad site called Building Camelot. The name of the post is: My 5 Biggest Fears Being a Dad, and it covers the fear of loss in a very honest, real way.

The post came along at the perfect time, as loss has been on my mind lately — ever since I had my tooth pulled a few days ago.

My tooth’s clinical name was #13. And although the procedure was quick and physically painless, I have been thinking more and more about loss. Other than my hair (which I’ve been losing for years), this is the only part of my body that I have lost. And the experience has quickly transcended into a life metaphor.

What else have I lost? I’m not talking about a set of keys or a receipt from Target. I’m talking about real loss, the type that takes a piece of you along with it. The kind that leaves you with little gaps, like cavities, that never fully disappear or heal.

And yet we go on – battered, weathered and full of tiny little holes. Somehow, we find a way to function. What choice do we have? To give up?

Here’s what I’d like to know. Why weren’t we ever taught how to cope with loss? How to come to a place of acceptance, and have what we’ve learned from the loss propel us to a better place. In school, we learn about calculus and how to dissect a frog. Have you found that helpful? Unless you are a mathemetician, or a freak who likes to look at frog guts, it hasn’t.

Mom and dad? Yeah, they were a big help. The only serious talk I got was ”boys have a penis, and girls don’t. Did you know that?” As a matter of fact, I didn’t. But nothing came after that sentence except my uncomfortable thoughts about what girls did have down there if there was no penis.

Like it or not, loss is a part of life. We have the power to give our chilren the tools they need to cope with loss in a positive way. We can help them learn to heal (as best as possible), and come to a place of acceptance so they can move on from loss instead of dwelling in it.

We can also let them know that it’s OK if they need help to cope or heal. Just being approachable, and telling them “mom and dad are here,” is a huge deal. Then, of course, there’s the power of spirit (but that’s a topic for another blog post).

Can we protect our kids from loss? I don’t think so. And why should we? If we want them to be healthy, successful adults, it’s our repsonsibility to help them be fully functioning people.

My parents were incapeable of this. Were yours? I think they did their best, which is all I can ask. But we can do better.

And remember, you are not alone…

Keeping Life in Perspective

There’s no question, being a parent is hard. Being a good parent? Even harder.

In an effort to do our best, it’s easy to get caught up in the thick of daily to-do’s, responsibilities and problems (which can linger for weeks, months or even years). This struggle can be overwhelming and even debilitating. Fatigue, frustration and dissatisfaction creep in and suddenly things appear insurmountable — a huge mountain that we’re standing at the bottom of. And our climbing boots don’t fit.

The size of the “mountain,” and our ability to climb it, is directly related to our perception of the mountain. In other words, it’s as big as we think it is. You’ve probably heard the statement, “your perception becomes your reality.” It’s true.

When my perception tips toward the dark side, the Universe (God) has a way of stepping in with a reminder to help me realign.

This week, my reminder came in the form of an article in Esquire Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned: Glenn Fitzpatrick.” Glenn is the father of a 5-year old girl named Maddie. He’s also dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

And suddenly I realize, my life isn’t so bad. I’m actually pretty lucky.

Click the link above to read Glenn’s brief, yet moving interview. It really puts things in perspective. He seems to be coping with his illness and imminent death with grace and dignity, and he inspires me to deal with my problems in the same manner (which often feels impossible).

Problems that seemed so large, and feelings that were so strong shift. I’m not saying they’re invalid. They most certainly deserve respect and attention. My issues are just smaller in comparison to Glenn’s — a man whose five year old daughter won’t have a daddy soon. How hard will it be for his wife to carry on? To raise their family? To smile?

At least I’ve got a partner, my lovely wife, to help my family through the peaks and valleys of life. I always say wife rhymes with life for a reason! I thank the Universe for her every day. How much harder must it be for a single parent?

I hope Glenn’s words help you as much as they’ve helped me. If you are a single parent, or if you are sick, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. I’m always here to listen if you need someone to talk to.

Remember, you are not alone…

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