What else would they do but start talking?
The Interfaith chaplain asked ( sagely of course..,)
" Children's grief is known to be chronologically inverse to adults. Yes? " The therapist nodded in a "tell me more" kind of way that looked habitual.
Adult grief is chronologically inverse to kids
The chaplain obliged (she was on a roll and was going to do it anyway,) "When told their mother was dead and would not be coming back, a kid may be initially shocked, but then, a few moments later, might ask if they could go play next door or watch a movie. Their grief is postponed – for months – long after an adult's initial lamentations and condolence cards are stored away. When an adult starts the slow internal healing that is needed to live, they tend to do it in a quieter version of grief which sets in like a numbing to joy and light. While they can see the sun, they can't feel it."
"Kids only start their grief months later - it looks like acting out. Their grief is mute."
The Ped's therapist agreed. " I get a lot of parents who bring children to me, not understanding what is going on. Their Johnny has become his evil twin and they want me to fix him." She shook her head in empathy.
"Chaplains use a spiritual framework but the work is the same as yours. In the hospital, we see kid's grief usually when they are the long term patients." empathized the chaplain. " What is your favorite tool for helping kids with their grief?"
The therapist thought for a moment. " I have two that come to mind."
The self portrait as a way into a kid's world
" The first is in the toolbox of expressive therapy" (i.e. crayons and their like)" I have them do a self- portrait. Few children have the ability to speak about how they are feeling but they can draw it."
I considered privately, all the self portraits I had done of myself over the years and agreed - even if you do have good use of words...
She continued as if she was hearing my thoughts, "Even if you do have the words, you can get insight into how you think others are perceiving you. I ask them to draw how other people see them, and how they see themselves."
She offered a second, less useful in a health care setting, was jumping rope. "It calms many kinds of kids down, the counting, the activity, the repetitions... it is an effective meditation for kids. You can talk with them during or after and they are more receptive. They hear things better when they are jumping. It is a good thing to do together, too. They feel accompanied."
...and she got out of the car leaving her wisdom with me.
Now I leave it with you.
on a Chaplain's life