By Tiffany Papageorge, author of My Yellow Balloon
One of the biggest joys of being a parent is that we get to be the ones to introduce our children to new, often monumental, experiences and by doing so we get to relive the wonder and importance of those experiences ourselves. The same is true of the not so wonderful experiences. Out of deep love and a longing to protect our children we try to rescue them from unpleasant or difficult life situations. However, life is both good and bad. The bad things are every bit as much of our life experience and are just as important.
Life teaches us over and over again about loss and we grieve over those losses. Some losses seem small to us: the loss of a beloved toy that breaks, the loss of a tooth, the loss of a teacher at the end of the school year. Then there are the losses that are bigger and more difficult: a friend moving away or changing schools. Finally, there are big losses: divorce, illness, and death.
I believe it is important not to minimize any loss, even though it may seem insignificant. Each one provides our children with the opportunity to learn how to navigate through the terrain of grieving. Small losses help to prepare for bigger losses.
As a parent, a few ways we can help our children are to be present and to give opportunities for their questions and emotions to come through. Don’t be afraid to give them answers that are honest, true, and, of course, age appropriate. Teach them that loss andgrief is a part of life and you have to know the bad to really know the good. By learning this, they will grow through the richness of all of their life experiences. We get to be the ones to be there for them, wrapping them in the safety of our love as we stand strongly by their side.
Tiffany Papageorge is an author, speaker and works with parents, teachers and mental health professionals whose mission is to find new ways to reach, capture and engage children who are dealing with the issue of loss.
Her extensive theater background spans a 25-year period, and includes work withCBS, Disney and The Sundance Institute. Tiffany holds an MFA from the American Conservatory Theater. She is a member of the Healing Story Alliance, the National Storytelling Network, SCBWI, and SAG-Aftra and has spoken for such prestigious organizations and events as Head Start, The National Alliance of Grieving Children and throughout Pennsylvania for Children’s Grief Awareness Day, to name a few.
The multi-award-winning My Yellow Balloon is her first picture book and was recently featured on the cover of Foreword Reviews.