Losing a spouse is traumatic. A tragedy. Losing a spouse unexpectedly has been, let me be honest with you…complete hell.
Jim passed at the end of 2017. I’ve been surviving in the house we bought together since. I’m now taking the bold next steps, (oh my god am I really ready to step forward into life without him here) and move forward. Literally moving. I sold our home, bought my next chapter home and I’m now in the middle of moving. Today, I took pause as I get closer to moving out. I’ve been thinking so much about when Jim & I moved in… unpacking, decorating, making this OUR home. It’s beyond emotional preparing to leave.
It has taken me sometime to even get to this stage. Initially, I didn’t know how to grieve at the sudden loss of someone (my Jim) I loved so deeply. I had to navigate it…alone. This thought then lead me to a different path of thinking – what about all of the high school seniors? They had no time whatsoever to prepare for their lives without prom, senior trips and most importantly…graduation. All steps that prepare them to go out into the real world, they have been taken away, without notice.
Something we aren’t really talking about publicly is acknowledging and allowing them to grieve. That’s right: grieving. They have had major losses on their path in life, something they have been waiting for, for 12 years. Poof. Gone. Just like that.
I’ve had many conversations with high school seniors and their parents lately. These conversations are heavy and understandably about their anxieties. But silently, grieving is happening. They’ve experienced an abrupt, traumatic loss, and it needs to be acknowledged. Both now and for the future. My advice, from being slammed into grieving years ago is to — Feel it! Say it out loud! “I’m grieving this situation”. Or “I’m angry that I don’t get to have a graduation to acknowledge all of my childhood and school accomplishments”.
As you support your graduate through this grieving process, help them make a written list of everything they might miss out on. Then, next to each item on the list, have them write some ideas as to how they can grieve. Next… discuss letting those grieving thought(s) go by creating or replacing it with a new idea. I love how celebrity John Krasinski decided to turn a negative into a positive by offering to host a virtual graduation for 2020 graduates. President Obama has followed this lead and is speaking with his wife in a virtual graduation ceremony. This is way awesome! Attend this or lead one at your own high school! Now there’s a college resume piece for you.
Hey, I know that going off to college is scary enough under the best of circumstances for you graduates. Now, as young adults you might have to go off to school without experiencing a weekend orientation where you can meet some of your peers, learn the campus or get a feel for what your new hometown is like. Furthermore, with your hopes and expectations about closing high school memories that you can carry with you, share with your growing circles and eventually your kids and grandkids, there is now a void. This sucks. And you’re allowed to acknowledge that it sucks!! But you and only you can grieve this, feel it, say it out loud and replace it with new creative, move forward ideas.
Go on now, get started…the sooner you acknowledge grieving, the faster you can push through it. And please feel free to reach out to me for support and ideas. I’m happy to listen, brainstorm, and share this journey with you.
Stay tuned for my piece on creating a successful emotional path to college….academically, socially, personally and emotionally.