As we walk with our children through this current “pandemic” storm, we are relying on something that we do as a family every single night, whether we are in crisis or not. Each night we go around the dinner table and everyone shares a HIGH (something good) from that day and a LOW (something sad or frustrating or embarrassing) that happened to them that day.
We’ve done this ever since our children were very young, because it gives us a window into our kids’ hearts. As they have grown older, it allows us a glimpse into their time away from us during the school day. This family habit gives them a safe place to be honest about what was hard and what we can celebrate together as a family. We all participate, so they get to hear about their mom and dad’s lives as well.
During recent weeks, we’ve had some pretty low lows. All of us. We’ve experienced loss and disappointment. Just like you.
We want to help our kids name their loss and name their gratitude one day at a time.
Kids don’t use the word grief, but that is exactly what they’re feeling; it’s what we’re all feeling. So, we are trying to give them a place to process that. They are watching us. When we are honest about what’s hard, they learn that it’s ok to be honest about what hurts their hearts right now. Grieving is not negative thinking, it’s not complaining. Grief is a natural response to loss.
Naming loss keeps us from hiding our hearts from God.
After we name our disappointments (our LOWS), we always pray, so our kids begin to understand that they can’t heal their own hearts, Mom can’t Dad fix their hurt, but we can turn to God who knows exactly how to comfort us. He can sympathize with us through anything we go through, even a pandemic.
We also make space to name the gratitude (our HIGHS), the things that bring us joy. We have celebrated some new and unexpected things like family bike rides and fishing every weekend and dressing up in silly costumes to go to the drive through for ice cream.
Naming gratitude keeps us from being overwhelmed by the losses.
We began recording what we are thankful for on some colorful pieces of paper we had around the house. Then each day, we string them together so that we have a fun banner to hang in our home as a reminder that we still have so much to thank God for. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:18, giving thanks in all circumstances is God’s will for us.
Helping our kids name loss and name gratitude in this storm is teaching them that joy and sorrow coexist. We can be honest with God about both, because He is with us in the highest highs and the lowest lows.