A lesson in dealing with loss from my children — Vivienne Solomons

I think it is fair to say that 2020 has turned out rather differently to what anyone could have imagined at the start. This is true not only in South Africa but the world over.

A word that is often used in the context of Covid-19 is “loss”, where loss is defined as having something or someone leave or be taken away from you, a feeling of grief when something is gone (YourDictionary).

Many, if not all of us, have experienced loss which is directly attributable to the Covid-19 pandemic, from the loss of freedom of movement due to Level 5 Lockdown restrictions to the loss of income or a job to the loss of a loved one. Hard as it may be, loss has become a significant part of our personal, community and national narratives in 2020.

Even our preschooler, who turned four recently was not spared. We were hardly a week into hard lockdown and he asked us: “When are the people coming to our house?”. Every few days thereafter, he would ask the same question. Another favourite question of his was: “What are we doing today?”. Almost every Zoom call and telephone call, whether work or family related, he would appear, seemingly out of nowhere, declaring; “I also want to say “hello”,

Interestingly, not once during the almost 6 months he was out of school did he ask to go to school. His greatest need was to connect with people and have something to look forward to each day. But when his school did finally reopen in September, he was the first to be dressed and ready to go even though it was only 6am in the morning!

Our older son, who under normal circumstances prefers to hang out at home rather than go out, gave us pause for thought when he told us of his plans to go back to school as soon as his school opened in June. The reason being, he felt it would be “good for his mental health” to go to school and experience some semblance of “normal” in a world turned upside down. In that moment, I was both a super proud mama and a supremely anxious one: proud of our son for conducting his own independent research around possible risks and then considering his options; anxious because we were about to send him back to school at a time when infections in Gauteng were sharply on the rise.

Each of our sons, in his own unique way, surprised us with the extent of his own self- awareness and the ability to express how he was feeling and what he needed in order to navigate change in his world and, as a consequence, his own experience of loss.

We were given a refresher course in how to deal with change in our own lives and the loss of so much that we previously took for granted so that we could move forward with hope:

  • Firstly, we need to acknowledge that we are experiencing loss
  • Then we must allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling and not dismiss our emotions
  • Rather than worrying about the future and possible worse case scenarios, focus on the present
  • Take time to recognise and appreciate the special moments in our lives
  • Find purpose and meaning by connecting with others and making a contribution using our own skills and resources, where possible
  • It goes without saying that each of these steps finds its true value and has the greatest impact in the context of a relationship with our Heavenly Father, the One who not only knows us and the details of our lives intimately but also works everything together for our good according to His purpose for our lives as a whole.

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