“Moving is sad,” my ten-year-old told me. “We have so many memories in that house.” It was true. We did. And it was.
Four years ago, when we moved into the home we recently said goodbye to, both she and her twelve-year-old sister could stand under the bar-height countertop in our kitchen without bumping their heads. Not so when we left. Now they’re both taller than it. Our third grader learned how to read, write, and spell there. And our youngest, who’s now five, mastered the art of walking and talking.
As adults, most of us know from experience how hard it is to say goodbye to something we love. We’ve all had to grieve the traumatic death of a person, the leaving of a place, or the losing of a thing. As much as we’d prefer to shield our kids from the sting of it, we can’t. Loss is an unavoidable part of life.
So how can you and I help our kids process grief in a healthy way? Here are three things we do at our house that may prove helpful to you too.
1. Model "The How" for Them
Think back to how you learned to ride a bike or do a cartwheel. Someone modeled it for you, right? They showed you how. While kids don’t need to be taught to feel sadness, they do need to be shown how to process it in a way that helps them work through it.
For us, this means grieving openly and vulnerably as parents. Today I woke up longing to feel at home – to have a sense of belonging – in our new house. It’s something I don’t yet have. Instead of internalizing this, I shared it with my kids. It provided them with the opportunity to express similar sentiments. We then unpacked the magnetic fridge alphabet letters and the girls begin to spell out the words “our family” and all of our names on the fridge. Together, we sought to take one step closer to making this new house feel like home.