Ten Ways to Grieve as a Foster Mom
When a child you love has left your home through circumstances of the system, reunification, or allegations of wrongdoing, you are left to grieve. Here are ten generic ways to grieve as a foster mom. These can work in any order and you may prefer one more than the others. See what works and share this with other moms who are dealing with grief right now. Here are my ten ways to grieve as a foster mom.
The Number 1 Way to Grieve as a Foster Mom
First, journal. I practice journaling all the time so it would be natural for me to journal about my foster child leaving. When I endure rough circumstances while interacting with others, I will write exactly what happened logically and systematically. Then I write all of my feelings about the situation. Later if I need to recall facts of any kind, I have it journaled without feelings present. I find this method therapeutic as I am logically writing the timeline without emotion but then can get my frustrations, sadness, joy, or anything out on a separate paragraph or page.
The Number 2 Way to Grieve as a Foster Mom
Secondly, you can actually write a letter to the child you have lost. I say “lost” because often we do not know where the child went or even all of the circumstances. I have a book where a chapter is dedicated to "loss," and I speak of ambiguous loss. This is where the child is taken from you, subsequently, you do not know the outcome of the child. Write a letter and tell them your feelings, remind them of good times, and say a proper goodbye. You can keep the letter for later, mail the letter to the child protective services, or store it in a special box for memories.
The Number 3 Way to Grieve As a Foster Mom
Thirdly, create a video on your phone speaking to the child. Pretend this is what you would say to the child if you had the opportunity to do so. Speak to the child on the other side of the video and explain you are grieving as a foster mom.
The Number 4 Way to Grieve as a Foster Mom
The fourth way to grieve as a foster mom is to send the child a gift. You can accomplish this through the social worker, CPS department, or through a mutual friend. Perhaps you know someone who knows someone. Say you want to send a gift to the child and see if you can get that arranged. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You can get creative with this. If you know it is their birthday, usually, a card or a gift is welcomed. If you are being creepy with sending gifts it can be a turn-off. Just choose wisely.
The Number 5 Way to Grieve as a Foster Mom
Another way to grieve as a foster mom is to join a support group for grieving parents. It may not be the same circumstances as others, but I think it could be therapeutic to know you have normal feelings as you process the grief. You can explain that you feel like a death has occurred because you loved the child and perhaps thought of adopting. Those hopes and dreams are all lost. A few sessions may suffice.
More Ways to Grieve as a Foster Mom
You could subsequently take time off from fostering children. After a huge loss, you may need time to grieve. You can get into your own routine, do some intense self-care, or just get a massage. Take a vacation during this period. We would always go away as a family or as a couple in between foster placements anyway. This is just a great time for relaxing, destressing, and rejuvenation to your soul.
Don’t take too long off from fostering. Set a time frame to grieve, relax, rest, renew. But, get back in there. If you grieve hard, you must be doing something correctly. You must have had some attachment – which is excellent. There are more children who need you because more families need you. There are more bio families that need you to impact them as well. I encourage you to set a date to evaluate if you are ready to reenlist as a foster parent. Truly think about the possibilities of fostering and if you are still grieving, how that will affect a placement.
Now is also your time to evaluate your agency. If you want to switch, this would be a nice time to investigate. Here is a post that I did on choosing an agency. I love assisting with this process. https://impressingminds.com/choosing-an-agency/
A Friend's IG Quote:
The only thing for certain on this journey is uncertainty, but oh the story You’ve given to tell. What gift to be in these little lives in this season, but the weight of what should be is felt. I wish I could show you the dimples, the little curls starting, and the way they look at each other. That piece of my heart that I’ve kept hidden has light shining on it again. It was so easy for me to radically fall in love. Everyone’s opinions are loud. Welcome to foster care. This time I quietly lift my eyes and let the noise fade. Looking at my Abba for strength each day. Taking one day at a time and breathing them in. I love hearing, “What are the chances!?” I don’t believe in coincidences. God knew I needed them. What broke me is restoring me. Beauty from ashes. For such a time as this. If only for a short time. -KW
These are my children that I said "yes" to, after grieving my other children in foster care who had returned to their family. What if I had not said "YES" again?
The eighth way to grieve is to do charity work in another area. Perhaps there is a food pantry in your community, volunteer there. If there is a homeless shelter, consider serving at the soup kitchen once a week. Check out other opportunities to give back to your community. Churches are a great way to get involved in opportunities with community service. Don’t forget those.
The ninth way to grieve is to enjoy the family you have. I don’t mean just the family in your home, but extended family. Do you have an elderly aunt? Schedule a visit with her. Visit your grandmother more in this time period. Visit neighbors who could enjoy some company. The nursing home is full of elderly people who could use cards, gifts, or a visit. And by all means, enjoy the people in your own home.
Stages of Grief for a Foster Mom
Lastly, just grieve through the stages of grief and know it is normal. There are a few new theories for grief now. There were five stages, but recently, a few more have been added. You can check those out here: [ ] This way you know you are normal. Grab the tissues. Cry. Scream in your pillow. Punch your pillow. Go to the gym and punch a bag. Get the feeling out. Express these feelings. If you do not you may take longer in the grieving process than if you had processed the grief, acknowledge your feelings as normal and go to the next stage.
Here is more information on grief from this website: https://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html
If you have dealt with loss as a foster mom, what did you do? Did your method help? Share your ideas with us below.