Posts from June 2020

Lockdown has given many people the time to spring clean their wardrobes and now that shops have reopened, charity shops are reaping the rewards. But how many of you have spent the time working on yourself and clearing out unwanted pain and feelings of loss? 
 
Coming to terms with Lockdown and all the unusual elements that have accompanied it is not something we’re used to. We are a nation of grievers due to the losses we’ve experienced this year. You may have lost a loved one or a friend to COVID-19 and not been able to say goodbye, you may have lost your ‘normal’, you may have lost the routine of going to work, been furloughed, or made redundant. You may have had a loss of health, a loss of financial security, a loss of hopes and dreams if your special birthday or wedding got cancelled. We’re all grieving our losses. 
Spring cleaning
After a loss, you may consciously or unconsciously keep busy. You may throw yourself wholeheartedly into work or clean your house relentlessly, or spend every waking hour gardening, to distract yourself from your grief; anything to avoid thinking about that pain. You might become so busy that you collapse into bed at night relieved that you’ve survived another day and relieved that you’re so tired you sleep. 
 
As we go on experiencing other losses, we carry on being strong and busy, thinking that it’s the right thing to do. What you’re doing is ignoring and burying the pain, disrespecting your emotional needs, building grief upon grief, and storing up problems for later in life. In fact, what you are really doing is surviving on the surface of life instead of experiencing it to the full – good, bad, happy, or sad. 
Distracting ourselves by keeping busy
Today the government has announced a £1bn catch-up package to provide extra support to children who have fallen behind while out of school. While this is fantastic news, we would urge schools to think about tackling recovery first before the curriculum. 
 
Here’s why. Returning to school for many children, having had six months away, is going to cause a second loss event. Loss of their new structure, routine, safety, security, and family. And that is for the children who haven’t suffered a bereavement during Lockdown and haven’t endured any suffering. 
Father’s Day can be a very triggering time for many of us especially if: 
 
- your father has died, even if it was a long time ago 
 
- the father of your children has died 
 
- you didn’t get the chance to get to know your father and they were absent from your life 
 
- you’re a father and your child has died 
 
- you’re male and a child you conceived was never born, or was stillborn, or was born but lived for a short time 
 
- you’ve experienced infertility and there’s never been a pregnancy, as we establish relationships to the child we want and have hopes and dreams about 
Alone on Father's Day
 
As Fathers’ Day approaches, it is quite common practice, especially in early education, to make Fathers’ Day cards and even gifts. Sadly, not all children have a dad around. Their dad may have died, and it could be their first Fathers’ Day without their dad. Their parents may have divorced, and their dad might have moved away and lost touch. They may be in foster care and not have built up enough of a relationship with their foster father to feel comfortable with giving a card. 
Talking to Children about Coronavirus
Are you suffering from the physical symptoms of grief? It's surprising how physical grief can be. Your heart can literally ache. A memory can cause your stomach to tighten or a send a shiver down your spine. Some nights, your mind might race, causing your heart to race along with it, filling your body with energy that means you can hardly sleep. On other nights you might be so exhausted that you fall asleep immediately and still manage to wake up the next morning feeling shattered. 
Physical pain due to grief
When children return to school, remember that every child’s Lockdown experience has been different. Teachers are not therapists, however what you can do is give children the right tools to deal with emotional pain and grief, and you can control how you talk and listen to children. 
 
There are some obvious and subtle behaviours that can indicate that children are not feeling ok or may even be in emotional distress. They may be struggling to adapt with the change of returning to school after a long period at home. They might have lost a family member to COVID-19. They may have had an awful time at home, having lost the one place they feel safe (school). Fundamentally, you know the children in your care and how they normally behave and react to situations. 
Going back to the classroom after lockdown
 
Families are experiencing more emotional outbursts from children of all ages in Lockdown. If you want to take the intensity out of them, or try to limit them as much as possible, firstly you need to understand why they might be happening, and secondly read on to find out what you can do about them. 
 
Tantrums are a short-term energy releasing behaviour. Think of it as a boiling kettle letting off steam. The feeling of frustration and the inability to communicate their feelings – either because they don’t understand what they’re feeling but know they’re feeling something, or because they’re not being heard – must come out somewhere. 
Emotional outbursts in children
Over the past few months, we have all witnessed pictures in the news and on tv documentaries of people in their hospital beds on ventilators, intubated, with some of them about to lose their lives. It’s an image that will probably never leave when we think back on this pandemic in the future. 
 
If your relative or friend died from COVID-19, our hearts go out to you for what you have been through. One of the most painful of experiences when you’re grieving is having a disturbing image of your loved one’s final hours, days, or weeks etched on your mind that you keep flashing back to. You may have seen your relative in hospital or had a video call with them from their hospital bed. Your last image may have been seeing them in the back of an ambulance with an oxygen mask on. Your mind may have made up its own image if you weren’t able to see them. 
Painful image of loved one in hospital bed
As employees start to return to work, now is a good time to start planning how your business is going to support those who have been bereaved during Lockdown. 
 
Identifying employees who have been bereaved can be ascertained by line managers during catch-up calls, or via a simple email survey. This is important, as you may not have a clear indication of those who have lost friends and family members outside of immediate family. For immediate family losses, we have guidelines for writing sympathy letters here. 
Grief in the workplace
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