Manchester Attack 1 year on - The Impact of Anniversaries
Posted on 21st May 2018 at 18:45
For those not directly involved it might not seem possible that a year has passed since the terror attack, time flies until you are grieving. Then the opposite is true, time moves incredibly slowly when loss overtakes you.
We define grief as the conflicting feelings following a change or end in a familiar pattern of behaviour. We grieve all loss, yes loss of life but also loss of health & the more intangible losses of loss of safety, loss of security, loss of hopes dreams and expectations. All grief is unique, just as all relationships are unique. This point is important as if we don’t acknowledge that the conflicting feelings are grief then the right help can’t be found.
There is something about anniversaries that can bring back all the unresolved fears, anxieties, anger, pain, so it can feel as if it only happened yesterday. In the case of events like terror attacks this is exacerbated by the press bringing it all back. So, what can you do to support young people who are struggling today?
Listen with your heart – not your head. Don’t try to minimise or rationalise feelings – it is OK to feel how they feel.
Encourage them to talk if they want to but don’t force the issue
Be sensitive to mood changes & erratic behaviour these may be grief symptoms
Read the book “When Children Grieve” to help them and The Grief Recovery Handbook to help you with your own painful feelings around any losses.
Remember everyone and every experience is unique so there is no magic set of words that are appropriate for everybody.
Kids are people too. The guidelines are the same no matter what age of person you are talking to. The only thing that changes is age appropriate language.
It is important to acknowledge that sad, anxious, painful feelings are real and are the completely normal and natural response to loss of any kind. In these circumstances, there may be a range of losses including loss of sense of safety. This means that when your child expresses their fears or anxieties it is important allow them to fully express those fears uninterrupted rather than cutting them off in your rush to help them feel better. When they have finished, let them know that what they are feeling is completely normal and natural after hearing/seeing such awful news. Then tell the truth about yourself – such as you are also sad / angry / scared too and that you are going to do everything in your power to keep you all safe. Offering reassurance and comfort IS essential. Only then, having acknowledged the emotional (heart) truths, go on to have the intellectual (head) discussion about how while there are some really bad people around that do bad things the chances of it happening to them (again) is really small.
Don’t be tempted to turn the news off when a news story breaks to try to protect them. Other children at school will have seen it, social media spreads information that many kids have access to so all that will happen is they hear about events 2nd, 3rd or 4th hand probably massively distorted. By allowing them to hear the news you can have a controlled discussion about it.
Your thoughts and comments are welcome below
Tagged as: how to talk about sad or painful feelings, manchester, manchester 1 year on, talking about loss, talking to kids about bereavement, talking to kids about grief
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