Updated: Apr 3, 2020
Day 16 3/31/20 (Read about Day 16 Here)
The five stages of grief are usually used to explain the emotions associated with death and losing someone we care about. However, it is not uncommon to experience this during an extreme change or other types of loss.
Right now, we are all dealing with the loss of normalcy. Some are dealing with the loss of jobs, the loss of security, the loss of a loved one, and the loss of logic.
The five stages of grief to recognize in your children's play and help them through it.
Us in the beginning...We can still go everywhere, this virus is only in certain places and it won't affect us. We are under 50. We will just wash our hands a lot. We will only see the same people and keep our circle of friends together.
Kids in the beginning…. Yeah, we don't have to go to school!! Let's play!
Us now... Did you just touch your face, wash your hands, stay away from them, don't, no, what? nope, nope, stay don't move, in the house and then wash your hands. No, we can't visit them today. We are keeping our distance from everyone that isn't our family.
Kids now… When do we go back to school? I miss my friends! I don't want to do my school work. The teacher says I don't have to.
We know when they begin asking this, the denial is over. They understand this may take some time till we can socially gather in person again. Children under 4 may still ask when they are going to school... every single day! They mostly mention post pandemic daily routines. For them yesterday is the same as last week as the concept of time is extremely hard to understand. It's just a really long weekend for them.
Leila: “I'm putting this banana on the table so I can take it to school.
(Later the same day.. Banana has been eaten). Dad: What did you do today Leila?
Leila: I played with Maisy and Pakou (friends from school). (Um..no you didn't- I played with you all freakin' day).
Make sure they have time to call or zoom with their friends.
This is an emotion that often is revealed and in many circumstances. It is hard to say if the anger they feel is directly correlated to the pandemic or from being cooped up or because of their sibling annoying the poop out of them. My favorites are: she hit me, she pulled my hair, she said I'm weird, he is copying me, I didn't want to get soaked by the water gun while having a water gun fight etc etc.
However, for older children they may be able to express they are angry that they can not see their friends in person or go online for the 100th time at 10:00 pm to see if their friends are still playing Roblox together. Of course, we make allowances to make sure there is often socializing for him but not at 10pm. They may also be more emotional for reasons that seem like not a normal reason for them to be upset. Just hug them and make sure you know how hard this is for them for all of us. The unknown is a hard concept to grasp especially when illness and death is involved. Try not to take their anger personally.
Honestly, I don't see this one with my own kids. Bargaining always exists but not in the way the stages of grief intend. The stages intend that you have some sort of say over fixing or changing the matter. I will pray more, I will be a better X ( replace X with a religion you believe in), if only I had the opportunity to do Y then maybe I wouldn't feel this loss. Children don't normally take responsibility or hold on their shoulders worldwide problems. They may be more inclined to help or rally around a solution. Donating food or helping those who are struggling. They also don't think they can necessarily make an effective change. They hardly have control over their own lives let alone those of the world.
My son saw one of the graphs showing that scientists presume the virus will decrease with warmer weather like other flu-like viruses. So he asked innocently: “Then maybe we should increase global warming just to kill the virus?!” (I have no answer for this!)
Your children may feel more anxious and have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep. They may cry more or just feel insecure because their world has flipped upside down. They may play “coronavirus games”. Where they keep distance or isolate individuals from others because they are sick. Mine play a prisoner type game where they don't say corona but they are using some of the anecdotes from this time period that lets me know they are trying to understand and cope with their emotions and these different times. They may play this for a while and it is important to let them.
My mentors from Pop up Adventure Play wrote: “The world is a big and confusing place, full of uncertainties and unpredictable things. Generations of human beings have been processing this - from the very moment they were born - by playing.
The magnitude of this pandemic is beyond comprehension...But we have also seen little moments of hope, glimmers of joy amidst all of this madness...We need play now just as we always have, maybe even more so!
We need play so that we can get through each day, be it in isolation, in the hospitals, or on the front line. Whether it is a socially distant group dance before a shift at the supermarket, or a video-chat sing-a-long with your family in another country; digging a spontaneous hole to the center of the earth, or using every single baking tray that you have in the house - these are the things that will get us through, and these are the things we need to keep on doing.
Friends, followers, fellow people of this earth - play, no matter what.” (Check out their blog)
This stage is not realizing that what happened is ok but rather the acceptance that there is a new reality. (hopefully temporary). We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves.
I know many of us are having really hard times with finances and work, kids and basic needs like food. Even though I panic every now and again I know that I am lucky. I am lucky for this time with my kids. We are often too stressed by everyday life to really notice how amazing they have become. Pre-pandemic, there were other priorities like work that took over. We over-schedule their lives and our own. I know that I have re-prioritized my life. My kids were always a high priority but now I know from only two weeks how skewed even my priorities were or the way I paid attention. I have found that I am speaking (not texting) to family members I barely speak to. I call friends that I haven't heard from in a long time. It's important to me more than ever that human connection.
We must continue to listen to our needs; to move, to change, to grow, and to evolve.
For the kids we must make sure, now more than ever they are playing so they have the opportunity among other things to cope.
Read about Day 16 Here