Grief and the New Year
By Heidi Forney
Grief might seem to be a strange subject to talk about at this time of the year. Usually at the beginning of a new year blog posts are all about how to restart your school year after hitting that mid-year slump.
But sometimes, whether homeschooling with special needs or with typical children, grief accompanies the beginning of the year. It might be you lost a family member last year so the beginning of a new year is a harsh reminder someone is now missing. There may have been loss of health, a change in marital situation, or some other loss in your family; the possibilities are too numerous for me to name here. Each loss brings some kind of grief and sadness, a palpable sense of loss or disarray.
Loss can affect our day-to-day lives with our children, with our spouses, and with our friends. And truth be told, with our relationship with God as well. Grief hits us at the very heart of our everyday lives. It can feel as if no one could possibly understand how much it hurts to have that loss.
Remember that each person’s feelings are uniquely theirs, as are their reactions to that loss. You may see in your child a loss of appetite, or an increase. You may see a need to retreat into the inner sanctum of home and family and to stay away from friends or normal routine until you are ready to create a new normal. Or it may be that you need to take on something new and challenging to get your mind off your loss, embracing something completely different. Counseling perhaps is needed.
When dealing with our special needs family members, it is important to realize that when changes happen in a family, when there is a loss of some kind, they too will have their own unique way of dealing with that loss. It might be that they need more time being read to, more time to be held, more time to swing, or a later bedtime (for a while). They may have anger issues. They may not fully comprehend the loss.
Adapting our strategies for loss to the child’s needs, even when we are struggling to take care of our own needs, is HARD but ESSENTIAL, because that is how our children will learn to give themselves time to grieve a loss. Remember that homeschooling is teaching your children lessons for life.
Loss equals change, and change can be hard. Don’t be afraid to seek help, someone to come alongside you as a family. Eventually, we do come out on the other side. God is so good to us, because He walks with us, even carries us each step along the way if we ask Him! And even when we dont.
Heidi has homeschooled her three boys for over 24 years in both California and Idaho. Her youngest son has complex needs, both medical and on the autistic spectrum. He recently graduated, participating in the CHOIS graduation ceremony. When she is not caring for her son, she spends her free time volunteering with medical support groups and traveling with her family. She hopes that her experiences homeschooling special needs will bless and encourage you.