We all need different ways of making meaning from our experiences. When we share our struggles with others it helps us to process the emotions and feelings we are wrestling with.
One practical way of doing that is to take time to share by writing out our feelings.
Use the PROCESSING THE PAIN AND SEEKING THE GOOD sheet supplied HERE.
- Fill out the side that says THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR. Find things to be thankful for and acknowledge the little surprises that have happened today. Someone opened a door for me, I saw a cute butterfly. Big things and little things.
- Now fill out the side that says THE HARD THINGS. Each person lists their hard things because naming them is important. Little things and big things. Kids camp is cancelled. Will Grandpa get sick?
This practice of naming both losses and gifts is important for a few reasons.
NAMING GRATITUDE PREVENTS US FROM DROWNING IN SORROW
Finding things to be thankful for is a well-researched practice that can help all of us manage both daily struggles and bigger challenges. Practising thankfulness can increase positive emotions, sleep quality, and overall well-being. It is especially important during hard seasons that we look for the things that are going right in our lives when all feels wrong. We can be honest about what is hard without getting stuck. What are the gifts of this season together as a family?
NAMING LOSS HELPS US BE HONEST ABOUT GRIEF
We do not have to pretend that everything is fine. We can name what is lost and lament it together. We can say, “That’s rough.” We can be sad, and we can acknowledge sources of anger and irritability. A list of emotions might be a helpful tool here to help identify what people are feeling. We’ve supplied a basic one HERE.
NAMING LOSS KEEPS US FROM MINIMISING OR SILVER-LINING
During a difficult time, it can be easy to compare, minimise or downplay our response to others’ losses. We all experience the impact of change differently and while our first response ‘your life isn’t so bad’ statements might be true, they are unhelpful.
Brene Brown urges us to remove the words ‘at least’ from our vocabulary as we learn to practice empathy. Saying “at least” is a way to try to add a silver lining around a dark-cloud experience. Instead, most of us just want someone else to acknowledge that our experience is sad, and to be with us in our sadness for a while.
Information for this article has been adapted from an article from Fuller Youth Institute, read the article in its entirety here: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/naming-loss-and-gratitude-with-young-people