Some Advice for Grieving Well

Article, Video
  • Approximate Time Commitment: 10 minutes

Are you past the fun and now into the challenges of parenting third culture children? Understanding the life of a Third Culture Kid can be difficult.  This article and video is one element from the Grow2Serve online course Parenting Third Culture Kids. This course is for parents who have lived and ministered in a culture new and unfamiliar and who are committed to fully placing themselves into God’s hands for the sake of effective cross-cultural Gospel ministry. If you are currently engaged in cross-cultural ministry and are committed to living and serving well as a family in your context, this would be a good course for you.

Parenting Third Culture Kids will afford you the opportunity to explore some interesting information regarding the development of your parenting knowledge, perspectives, and skills while living and serving cross-culturally. But, more importantly, it also will connect you with fellow learners who are in a similar life stage.

For more information about the PTCK course and to register, visit here:

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Resource Description

Some Advice For Grieving Well

Lauren spent many years as a TCK with her family in Africa and now she enjoys helping TCKs and their families function well in cross-cultural life and ministry. You may want to visit Lauren’s website   Listen carefully to her advice on helping your kids keep through grieving and its proper place in their lives.

When you’ve finished watching the video, read Lauren’s blog post “Teaching your TCKs to Process Grief Before They are Grieving”

Here are the main points that Lauren makes in her presentation:

  1. Grief is Inevitable
  2. Unresolved grief is a leading TCK issue
  3. Unresolved grief can be prevented and resolved
  4. Well resolved grief yields empathy

If you have difficulty loading the video above you can read the transcript below: 

Hi everyone, I’m excited to be here with you at the start of this class and this grief section. My name is Lauren wells and I am the founder and director of TCK Training, which is an organization that provides practical preventative care resources for families with third culture kids. So, I am very excited to talk about this idea of grief and working through grief with your third culture kid. This is an inevitable thing that third culture kids go through and deal with. I am a third culture kid myself. I grew up in Tanzania East Africa and I have very intimately experienced this grief issue. And I get the privilege of talking about grief a lot in parent consultations and in workshops and teaching events and training events, all sorts of things and I love it. One of the reasons why I love talking with parents about grief is because I come at it from a place of hope. I believe that grief, well it is incredibly challenging and it’s a difficult part of the TCK experience. It is something that yields a tremendous amount of empathy and that is something that we need more of in our world. So, there are four points that I want to go over with you at the beginning of this section, the first is that grief is inevitable. If you are raising third culture kids, grief is going to be a part of their experience. This comes from losses, loss of the place that they were living before, loss of friends. Often TCKs live in the community that acts like a revolving door, there’s people coming and going all the time. That includes a tremendous amount of grief. Leaving family members who are in the passport country. There are just so many different sources of grief for third culture kids, so it’s important for you as you’re raising third culture kids to understand that this is inevitable. This isn’t an issue that may or may not happen with your third culture kids, this is something that will be a part of their experience.

The second point is that unresolved grief is a leading TCK issue. An unresolved grief is when grief builds up and becomes this complex layering of grief and grieving challenges and lack of resolved grief and it leads to unhealthy behavior in adulthood. So, a lot of what I do with my organization, TCK Training, is talking about what unhealthy TCKs look like in adulthood and figuring out how we can prevent those things by starting with their children and they’re being raised overseas. This unresolved grief idea is such a huge part of that, because when they don’t learn how to appropriately process and resolve their grief in childhood, when they’re experiencing it and growing up as a third culture kid. Then when they are adults all of a sudden, all this grief that’s compounded their whole life it has to come out in some way and unfortunately for a lot of TCKs in adulthood this comes out as unhealthy behaviors. Sometimes like for me it came out in numbing. So, I just wouldn’t feel anything I wouldn’t feel sad I wouldn’t feel happy or joyful, I would just numb all emotion. For others it comes out in other expressions of unhealthy behavior, this could be substance abuse, this could be an over emotional experience. All sorts of different things and many times it’s an actual diagnosis mental illness, that the stem of it is unresolved grief.

I believe, and this is my third point that grief can be, I’m sorry, unresolved grief unresolved grief can be prevented and resolved. So, grief cannot be prevented it is inevitable, but unresolved grief can be prevented. And this is where you come in, you are the person in their life who can help them to prevent and resolve this grief, unresolved grief issue. This comes through relationship with them, through having conversations about it, through being an example, showing them what it looks like to process grief in a healthy way. Allowing them to feel and to not always put on a happy face when they’re going through transition and going through even, what you may not think of as a challenging experience but if they feel the grief of it. Allow them to sit in that and then teach them how to process grief. The blog post that is linked in this session, that blog post has some great ideas for process and grief and teaching your kids how to do that.

Finally, my fourth point is that, well resolved grief yields empathy. The TCK challenges always have an amazing benefit that can be yielded and bred out of those challenges, if they are cared for in a healthy and productive way. I think that this idea, that grief yields empathy is so important because, your TCK can be so empathic. They can learn to sit with other people who are grieving, they can learn to be an advocate for those who are grieving, they can say I have been there and I know how you’re feeling. And this is not just true for people who have had similar experiences, but because they have this big wide perspective of living in a global community. They’ve seen different parts of the world they’ve seen different people, looked at the world from different perspectives. They can sit in this empathy empathetic stance with people from all different walks of life and cultures and locations and it is just this incredible experience. So, I hope this is encouraging to you as you work through this idea of grief with your TCKs, That grief while it’s inevitable and while unresolved grief is a leading TCK issue. This unresolved grief can be prevented and resolved and if that happens they have this amazing capacity for empathy.



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