Playing ‘top trumps’ with Loss

Playing ‘top trumps’ with Loss

05th May 2021

It’s another time of adjustment and change. The children and young people of the UK have recently returned to school. Parents and carers are maybe sighing with relief, or perhaps shedding a tear or two, or maybe jumping for joy! But I wonder how the children and young people themselves are feeling?

After an extended period of home-schooling (or being at home without home-schooling due to a lack of resources), young people will understandably be experiencing a mixture of emotions and feelings. Having had months of being socially disconnected, dealing with disappointments, experiencing a lack of resources and the tools they need, not all young people will be relieved to be popping on their school uniform or picking up their bags again. Mental Health Foundation says: “Given that there are many kinds of loss that pupils may have experienced over this time, you may see different kinds of emotional responses.”

At Kintsugi Hope we have been looking at grief, often described as stages that you move through, ending with acceptance. May I suggest a different model? We often play ‘top trumps’ with pain; we lower the value or impact of our painful experience because we tell ourselves someone has it worse than us. ‘I haven’t lost my job, so I have no right to fi nd working from home hard.’ ‘I haven’t lost a loved one, therefore I have no place to feel sad about missing my family.’ Sound familiar? Yes, me too. It’s so embedded in our culture to minimise our pain, but it is very damaging to our emotional resilience and health. We have all experienced loss and disappointment over the last 12 months, but no two experiences are the same. Author Tanya Marlow suggests that grief can be split into two spaces: Grief with a capital G and grief with a lowercase g.

Capital G grief could be a major bereavement or trauma and the latter could be smaller losses - such as loss of a job, a cancellation of a holiday, or the rescheduling of a wedding or celebration. The important thing to stress is both are losses, both are worthy of mourning.

Our young people and children are the first to return to some sense of normality, but have they been given a chance to grieve?

Some of their friendships could have changed and might not be there anymore. They might be feeling behind in their schoolwork or desperately missing their extended family and longing for a hug. If you work with children or young people, I encourage you to create a space where they can, in their own time, recognise these losses. Maybe they could write a list of the things that aren’t the same or they feel are missing. If we can create a space for young people to grieve what they have experienced as losses and disappointments, they can begin to process the pain of the last year which will be key to them building resilience. There is not going to be a vaccine available for the effects of COVID-19 on mental health and poverty.

We need to grapple with this now so that we can save people more heartache. Resources such as TLG’s Emotional First Aid and Kintsugi Hope Wellbeing Groups, on which we partnered together, are vital for supporting people through this period. Many of us know all too well that when we’ve suffered, we don’t simply ‘bounce back’; difficulties can leave us scarred and changed. But as we face our past and our present with courage and show ourselves kindness and compassion, we find that we can move forward and discover the truth of God’s treasures in our darkness.

As our country counts the cost of COVID-19, there are millions of children in urgent need of pastoral and practical support. We were able to reach many children this year thanks to the thousands of supporters who give generously to TLG. However, without your help, other children will continue to walk the long road alone, with devastating life-long consequences.

But there is hope for these children. If you become a Hope Giver before midnight on 10th May 2021, your donations will be doubled for a whole year! Wondering how your donations will be doubled?! We have some very generous supporters who share our sense of urgency. They have agreed to match, pound-for-pound, any new Hope Giver who signs up before May 10th.

Hope Givers are monthly donors to TLG. Their generosity helps transform the lives of children, enabling TLG to reach many more of the young people currently struggling alone. 

CLICK HERE to become a Hope Giver and change lives today!

Patrick Regan

Patrick Regan OBE is an author and the CEO and co-founder of Kintsugi Hope – a UK-based charity that wants to see a world where mental and emotional health is understood and accepted.

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