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  • Writer's pictureDawn Ford

Incomplete Grief - What is it and can it be resolved?

A large discussion point from last night's Week 2 of the 'Helping Children with Loss' programme was Incomplete Grief.

What is it? How do we get it? And how can it be resolved?

"Incompleteness is an accumulation of undelivered communications, large and small, which have emotional consequence for you." 'When Children Grieve' -handbook

Sometimes incompleteness is caused by words or actions - so the things we wished we hadn't said or hadn't done. Or the opposite - the things we wished we had said or had done. Other times incompleteness is caused by the unwillingness of others to listen to our words, whether positive or negative: our praises, thanks or apologises, or perhaps our anger or resentment at something. This leads to trapped undelivered emotional communication. When the person dies or refuses to talk to you as in an acrimonious divorce, or family feuds, you can carry Incomplete Grief.

The event or the feeling can be recent or from many years ago. If we never said what we wanted to or if we felt we weren't heard then we can feel frustrated, or angry, sad or stuck. In order for that energy- draining, sometimes all-consuming feeling to disappear we need to deliver those emotional communications.(please note that it doesn't always need to be direct to the person involved) This is how we 'complete' with 'incomplete' grief. (This is also a significant element in the 1:1 programme I deliver - The Grief Recovery Method.)

There maybe times when we seize the moment and we tell the person directly how we feel and that's brilliant. Other times we may go round and round waiting for the perfect time, the right setting, the right mood and it never shows itself. So we keep the words and feelings inside. And this is so unhealthy. We know the body keeps the score - so all of this undelivered emotional communication - this incomplete grief affects not just our emotional health but our physical and our mental health too.

In an ideal world all of us would be able to tell our emotional truth. We would be listened to. We would feel heard and we wouldn't be judged. What would this mean for our children? Our children would no longer be fearful of expressing their emotions to others. They would not deny their feelings. They would not store their negative or painful emotional energy and it would not exhibit itself as 'bad' behaviour. With emotional truth for all of us our children would no longer fear being belittled, ashamed or punished as they share their sad and painful emotions. As they cry.

As parents we ARE our children's teachers and as they look up to us and copy our ways, our beliefs and our behaviours we have got to get this right.

For the sake of our children; For the sake of their mental health we need to act now.

This training programme is for anyone: parents, grandparents, guardians, carers, teachers, social workers, nurses, doctors, gym coaches, football coaches etc. Anyone who cares for, educates or trains children this programme would benefit you. You learn how your beliefs and life losses have impacted upon you and as a consequence effects the way you are with children. Without a shadow of a doubt this programme will benefit any child in your care, in your classroom and in the most incredible way. What a gift that is to give to your children.

Photo credit: Jordan-Whitt Unsplash

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