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Not getting up-and-over the loss of an important relationship:

Your child’s feeling he cannot live without a
relationship is his perception of how he would be without the relationship.
That is just how it is from his point of view. When you see this sign in your
child, he perceives the relationship he lost was important, thinks it is gone,
and believes he cannot live without it. It does not matter how others see or
think about him and the relationship. His perception is his reality and the
basis for his actions.

Start with his reality, with his perceptions. It
is easier to unilaterally decide what he thinks and feels are not valid, the
relationship was not actually so important, or he has not really lost the
relationship. You are tempted to say to him, “Things will work out.”
Your point is his perception is wrong.

Your helping him starts with adopting his
perspective, his perception. Why does he think the relationship was so
important? What makes him think he lost the relationship; and most importantly,
why does he think he cannot live without it?

Your child is best served if you start the
conversation like this. “I want to understand. Please help me understand.
What about the relationship was so important for you? What have you lost that
is so very important to you? Will you talk to me about what you’re thinking and

Your child’s grief, anger, fear, and emptiness
are real and painful. His loss is real; and living past the pain feels
impossible to him. To help, share his grief, his strong feelings, and his pain.
It is as if you take part of it into yourself. Your child cannot handle it by
himself; but together, you can.

Here is how to tell if you are helping. Can you
feel his loss, his emptiness, his grief, and his pain? Is it a little as if the
feelings were yours? If so, you have achieved empathy. That is the level at
which real help and healing for your child can begin.

Refrain from telling him how he should think or
feel, and more importantly, from saying his feelings and how he thinks about
what happened are wrong. Listen and feel until empathy comes for you. When it
does, you can then honestly say, “I’m afraid for you. I’m afraid for me.
Maybe I don’t totally understand; but I feel awful and hurt as if it happened
to me. I want to be close to you and help you get through this. Can I share
your grief with you and struggle through it with you?” Holding or touching
your child may make him and you feel better; but holding him emotionally is the
key to really helping him.

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