Friday, April 8, 2011

Loss and Grief Foster Parenting Class

Last night's class really wasn't my favorite that we had to go to. It was about Loss.

Loss is defined by two categories, those that are an expected part of the human life experience, and those that are unexpected, that we hope won't happen to us. Unexpected losses are often more painful because they are not seen as a normal part of life.

Expected loss is things like the loss of a parent due to age, loss of a child going away to school. Things that almost every human has to deal with at some point, they are common and easily understood and there is generally a lot of knowledge and support about such losses.

Unexpected losses are things like the death of a parent at an early age, the loss of a child, infertility. Things that not very many people have gone through and most don't know how to handle. Therefore people don't know how to relate to people going through unexpected losses. There is not very much knowledge and not very much support.

According to our paperwork and the class, loss can be further divided into three types:
First, there's loss of health, both physical and mental.
Second, there's the loss of a loved one, whether through death, or divorce, or infertility because of the baby one could never have.
Third, there's the loss of self-esteem, when we feel shame or hurt.

Children coming into Foster Care are experiencing unexpected loss. They weren't expecting to be taken out of their home in the middle of the night by the cops. They weren't expecting to switch schools, and see their family once a week or even less than that. They weren't expecting to have to learn a whole new set of life situations... and all of this can affect their self-esteem. They blame themselves for the circumstances that they find themselves in.

Not only do these children experience loss, they also experience the grieving process.

It was a shorter class, for some reason it only lasted 2 hours instead of three... but that was fine by us.

It was a complex class really, it's just sad that these children along with dealing with abuse and neglect of some sort, they are also dealing with losses and grieving. It's a really sad situation all around.

Our next exercise that we have to do for homework is to go through all of the losses that we have experienced in our life, expected and unexpected and explain how we dealt with them. Should be an interesting exercise. Who doesn't love going through all of their losses and re living them all over again right?

I do think it's valuable though to be able to manage your losses and grieving in order to help others through the grieving process. I think that a lot of what Jack and I deal with infertility and how we have coped and how we have grieved or how we do grieve has enabled and empowered us to be able to help others through the same loss. At least we hope that to be true!

I don't feel like the class last night gave either of us any new perspectives on the foster children, but it definitely made us think a little deeper about the people in our lives and how they deal with loss. Especially those who have tried to compare their losses with ours, we have a better understanding of what kinds of losses we have experienced. And understanding that, we can see how it affects our view of the world also and how we learn and associate with others. All of which is significant in dealing with foster children.

So that was our class. I think we really like the classes where they give us real life examples instead of general information. This class about loss was more of a general information class. Hopefully soon we will be getting a licensing worker!

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I wonder about our infertility and the whys of it, but when I read about these kids, it almost makes more sense to me. Like, I know how it feels to have a big part of my life out of my own "control," so I think our grief does equip us differently than a fertile couple. Thanks for continuing to share your journey. You'll have to keep me posted in 2 years when we look to become certified. Have your read "Attaching in Adoption" or "Toddler Adoption: the Weavers Craft?" They're my two favs so far and deal really directly with these ideas of grief.

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