” My dad used to say that living with regrets was like driving a car that only moved in reverse.”
– Jodi Picoult
I should have……I could have……If I only…….
Words said. Words not said in time. A fight before an unexpected death. Not being able to say good-bye. Adults and children may experience regrets after a loss. But the danger is that we can become “stuck” in our grief when the regrets are constantly played over and over again in our mind. Children often keep these feelings inside.
How can we help children who are having feelings of remorse? The guardian can start the conversation by sharing an example. We have discussed regrets in our children’s support group. I began by sharing not being able to say good-bye to my grandfather before he died. I explained that it was an unexpected death. Then every child received a paper and was instructed to write down a regret. I brought in a powerful shredder from my home office. At the end of the exercise each child had the opportunity to verbalize his/her regret and then I shredded the paper. The adult should do the shredding if you do this activity with a group! There is a sense of relief and control as each paper goes through the shredder. Indeed, this is a powerful activity to use in a support group or counseling session. A guardian could also use this activity at home, as long as the adult is manipulating the shredder.
I encourage you, the adult, to try this exercise. If you do not own a shredder, cut the paper into tiny pieces with scissors. Let go of any regrets. If you are able to let go, then your children will learn from you.