This a term created by Carla Mitchell to describe how children grieve. I love the metaphor.

Children hop in and out of grieving, just like they hop in and out of puddles. It can look like they do not grieve. They grieve a bit and then go on playing. Some adults are confused by this. They think that the child is done.

This is not the case. Children do not have the capacity to hold that much pain all at once. Their nervous systems can’t handle it. So they go in and out. Even in our groups, we schedule in play time because we know that the kids, just can’t stay in that sadness for too long.

Adults on the other hand – it is like canoeing in a river. We tend to stay in our emotions for longer periods of time. Our nervous systems can handle it. The good news is, that while we are in it for longer, we always come out of it too.

It can feel like the emotions of grief never leave us and at the beginning, I will say that it takes up all of our brain space and energy, we move in and out of our emotions. Often people will say they don’t want to start crying because they are afraid that they will never stop. You will stop. It can feel like forever though. Actually, allowing yourself to feel your emotions is the most effective way to move them through your body. It can feel like a pressure cooker if you do not give yourself permission. It will build and build and then explode. The gentlest way to feel is to feel as it shows up, letting a bit of pressure off at a time.

In our Family Grief Support sessions we talk about these ideas. The group runs for eight weeks at a time. We invite the whole family in. Children in one area, teens in another, and parents or guardians in another. Each week, the theme is the same and the content is age appropriate to each group. The hope is that when the family goes home, they talk to each other about the sessions. So often, we try to protect the children, or the children try to protect the adults. The grief becomes the elephant in the room. It can get incredibly uncomfortable for families. The healthiest way to grieve – is to grieve. The healthiest way for families to grieve is to grieve together.

Our next Family group sessions will begin the end of September and run every Tuesday evening for eight weeks. If you think that you or anyone you know would benefit from this program, please call us at 250-563-2551. We will be happy to give information and to register you.

When we grieve together, we grieve well. Whether it be puddle jumping or canoeing in a river, sharing our emotions is the way through.

Be Gentle.

Denise Torgerson
Community Programs