When you are a mom, your first priority is your kids’ wellbeing. You may have other things going on in your life that are super important, but of course, your kids come first. Period.
So when something big happens in your life, it can throw you off track in a major way – and potentially affect your kids, too. The loss of a four-legged family member, a long-term relationship, or a person can be extremely tough, and grief manifests itself in the oddest ways. When you are trying to be the best parent you can be with grief on your shoulders, it can feel like you’re constantly treading water, trying not to sink.
Here are 5 things you should know about tackling grief as a mom. Read on to find out how to cope with balancing motherhood and processing your grief at the same time.
- It’s OK to cry in front of your kids.
Depending on your kids’ ages and maturity levels, they will be at different stages of understanding the fact that their parents are human. As small children we think of our parents as perfect leaders that never do anything wrong, and hold all the wisdom of the universe. As we mature, we realize that parents are just human beings trying their best, and that they aren’t perfect after all.
When you are in grief, tears come in waves, often at unexpected or inconvenient times. If you hate crying in front of your kids, try to adjust your attitude towards this: you are human, not stone, and it’s OK to cry in front of them.
If your children seem worried by your tears, you can take the time to explain things to them. Telling them, ‘Moms feel sad sometimes too – we all feel sad sometimes,’ can help your children feel less anxious about seeing their Mom cry. Locking yourself away to cry will only make things worse in the long run. Talk with your children, be open, and share memories.
- Try to carve out alone time each day, even just for ten minutes.
Grief takes its toll on people physically and emotionally. It is exhausting to feel sad all the time, so self care is a priority for you at this moment. “Self care” is marketed by brands to mean bubble baths, face masks and spa days – not that there’s anything wrong with those things! – but self care can simply be carving out time for yourself to be alone and breathe.
During your alone time, you can do whatever you want. Cry, smile, stretch, meditate, dance, scroll on your phone; all these things are valid. Alone time allows a person to collect their thoughts and be present, which, as a mom, can be very difficult sometimes!
- Grief isn’t linear – there’ll be good days and bad days.
As mothers, we often feel like we have to do everything right. Grief, however, pulls that conception out from under our feet. There is no “right way” to grieve.
If you feel positive, energetic and bright for a few days or weeks, you might think to yourself, “I’ve nailed it! I’ve got over this time and I’m moving forward!”. While it is important to celebrate progress, you need to remember that grief isn’t linear, and dark days can come around again unexpectedly.
If you feel you are up and down, some days blue, some days happy, try to allow all these feelings to wash over you. As a mom you are doing your best, and on some days, your best might not be as accomplished as others. That’s okay. Let yourself be imperfect and your kids will love you just the same.
- Find ways to commemorate that loved one that are special to you and your family.
Everything in life is a teachable moment, including grief. If your children have never been around a grieving person, or never experienced grief themselves, there are lessons to be learned about how to commemorate a loved one in a special way. There’s no use pushing grief to the back of the closet; it has to be faced.
One way to commemorate a loved one in a special way is to involve your kids in creating something special. This commemorative activity could be putting together a photo album, planting a tree, praying together regularly, or even having cremation jewelry made from that pet or person’s ashes to hold close forever.
Whatever the activity you choose, this will help you and your children move forward through the grieving process as a unit. Grief can sometimes make us feel separated from the people we love the most, so performing these rites of passage can re-establish that bond once and for all.
- Try entering into therapy – it could be your saving grace.
Therapy is becoming increasingly available, and increasingly popular, in the modern era. Life can be traumatic, there’s no way around it; when you lose a person, it is a huge shock to the system, even if you were prepared for it.
Entering yourself into talking therapy can transform the way you go through the grieving process. Therapy gives you an outlet to be as upset as you need to be; you can cry, rage and vent about all your emotions, and learn tools to cope with them better.
Therapy isn’t just great for you individually – it’s also great for your family. Having this therapeutic outlet to go through your emotions with a professional therapist will help you remain calm and focused at home. Your kids and spouse will get the best version of you possible at this moment, and that’s a huge win for everyone.
Grief is a powerful amalgam of so many different emotions: sadness, anger, frustration, love and fear all rolled into one. Experiencing grief when you are trying to be a good mother is very difficult; nobody gets it perfect!
At the end of the day, you need to remind yourself that you are a human, learning to adapt to your environment the best you can. Be kind to yourself as a grieving mom, and let yourself be vulnerable, even when your kids are around. Use these tips to help you get through this challenging time.