Making a book activity 13: Losses

We all have many losses in a lifetime, it’s part of life.  There are big losses and little ones and each one matters.  Our feelings tell us how much we cared; and our good memories of what we have lost will help us in time.

The big losses can change us.  Sometimes we need to stop ordinary life for a bit, because it’s a shock; and we may always feel sad when we think about it, and that’s okay.

Sometimes we don’t realise how much the little losses affect us too.  The end of something precious feels really sad for a while.

Everyone has different ways of managing.  When you think about times when you’ve felt loss, what has helped you?  Let’s share ideas in the comments below.

Our artist is working on a picture of loss…

We’ve been really touched by your response to this topic of loss.  So many losses experienced and you have shared such great wisdom for how to live through them.  Young and old.  

Now we want to give you this inspiring piece of art created this week by our resident artist, Tanja: a phoenix that rises slowly but magnificently from the ashes.

This will be a really important section of the Mother-Daughter Date diary that we’re creating together.  Thank you to everyone who contributed and your comments are always welcome.

Phoenix rising from the ashes

The phoenix represents transformation, death, and rebirth in its fire. It dies in a show of flames and combustion and obtains new life by arising from the ashes and is the ultimate symbol of strength and renewal. The phoenix is symbolic of the sun, which “dies” in setting each night only to be reborn in rising the next morning.

Our experience of a loss can be transformative like this, we are forever changed, yet we live on…

Kim McCabe’s book ‘From Daughter to Woman’ is full of tools for dealing with loss, particularly chapters six and seven on how to support our children’s strong feelings and feel good about themselves.

Everyone who contributes to our diary is entered into our draw to win a copy of the Mother-Daughter Date diary that we’re all making together.

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  1. I lost my son. He was stillborn. My children lost a brother. They never got to see him as I travelled interstate for care. We had to bury him away from us so there was no place to grieve where we lived.
    We created a story for him that ended with a positive message of love and hope. He would go to a new family because the love we have for him made him perfect in his next life. He came to us because he knew we could do that for him. He chose us to love him.
    We then cried openly as we celebrated what little we had of him. I have never hid my pain or loss over the last 3 1/2 years from them. My older children know the whole story of why we lost him.
    I always answer their questions openly. I always reiterate that all is well for him now and that makes me happy.
    It did change me, I left a bad marriage. Which in turn changed a lot for them. We are still dealing with it and it will always be a tumultuous time for us that we look back on.
    But my story is consistent and even and never changes. The ending is always for the better.

    • My deepest condolence Lyndal for the loss of your dear son. I too hold a little one in my heart and I am forever changed. Thank you so much for sharing with us how you have managed your loss, for yourself and with your children. You have handled it with great integrity and honesty and your children will have gained a precious life lesson from you.

  2. I’ve tried to be honest with my daughters so they can ask lots of questions but keeping it simple seems best ?

    • Honesty and simplicity, such a good policy.

  3. Cry. Sleep. Pray. Ask Jesus to hold me together.

    • Such a great way to spend time thinking about what we’ve lost, while celebrating what is precious about it, and making a keepsake memory.

  4. Such an important post Kim. Stopping ordinary life sometimes can be so valuable. Refocus, Re centre and re connect. ??

    • Whenever I’m faced by a challenge of any kind I try to remember to start with a pause. I love your trilogy: re-focus, re-centre, re-connect.

    • So important to find a way to say goodbye – even if we can’t manage to in person.

  5. 9y/o said look after yourself, then help others. As well as have a hug and talk about it. I’ll take that.

  6. I lost my partner of 32 years it all happened so quickly it was a rare form of cancer I wanted to end my own life at the same time but I had a daughter she had lost her father and she showed immense strength and support I hope we helped each other she went on and took a second degree and became a mental health nurse she had promised her father she would do that she’s absolutely incredible she’s kind caring a beautiful girl he’d be proud of
    I fell apart couldn’t see a way forward I really didn’t want to here it was a real struggle everyday was like climbing a mountain through thick fog but I had to keep going for my daughter
    One day my therapist asked me if I liked horses and yes of course I love all animals so she took me to meet some horses well ponies actually no riding involved just being with the ponies well what a revelation they literally saved my life the people who run the sessions are so kind and caring really relaxed about everything so them together with the ponies saved me they are so peaceful have no agenda no expectations it’s so beautiful just being with them that you forget you’re pain for an hour a week so it was ponies not Prozac that literally saved my life x

    • I’m so sorry to hear about the sudden loss of your long-term partner, Lou Lou. It sounds like it was a real uphill struggle to find life bearable again, I’m so glad you made it. And your daughter too. Animals can offer us such solace. When we talk about loss in Girls Journeying Together groups, being with pets is always high on the list. Thank you for telling us about the ponies.

  7. From a 12 year old (Shared with permission) – What is loss? I haven’t lost anybody but take your brain off for a bit. Missing friends who are banned from social media at the moment because they need to focus on school work at home. Instead, I am listening to music and seeing what drawing/painting that makes me think of.

    • Music and drawing/painting – brilliant

  8. From a dad – Ability / opportunity to do something you enjoyed. He felt the loss of no longer walking to school with his growing daughter because she wanted to walk with her friends. Turn it around – ‘what do I replace it with?’ ‘What things can I do with her instead? New ‘grown up’ stuff – going to see the cricket because she can concentrate for a longer time. Life changes. Find something new to replace it.’ (Shared with permission)

    • Feeling the loss and then looking for the gain, what a great approach.

  9. When i have felt loss i find comfort in spending time with family and friends. I am one for routine and after a loss i re-assess my routines and make sure i have time for me but keep busy still. I have a thing about changing my hair either colour or cut when i need cheering up.

    • Routine holds us. And family and friends. Love the hair-do uplift!

  10. I think we are moving through some loss at the moment for my 11 year old Year 6 daughter as she comes to the end of primary school and isn’t being able to celebrate this ending in the normal way because of Covid. It’s really hard that everything has been cancelled and this isn’t how she imagined it. I feel pretty unprepared for what to do, but so far I have felt it really important to just listen to the emotions and let her feel it all rather than say “it’ll all be ok”.

    • Such wise parenting, to listen to it all, letting her feel it rather than trying to fix it.

    • Rites for Girls is working on an exciting project for all year 6 children to help them make a happy and healthy transition to secondary school. There’ll be a national happening, downloadable resources on our website, and something for parents too. We’ll keep you posted.

  11. My FS27 is leaving home today and I just realized how deeply GD7 is going to miss him….she’s busy making him a tea party.

    • Even at 7, she wisely knows that rituals at these times are so important.

  12. The Phoenix. Such an amazing teacher for humans.

  13. @tanjahassel_art Beautiful! 😍 I love this piece. Is there a way to purchase this piece as a print?

  14. Congratulations Tanja on creating such a beautiful piece of art. Having experienced the death of my darling brother, I am touched to see such a positive depiction of loss. Loss never fades, you just get more used to carrying the feelings in your heart. But the concept of rising again, for the deceased and grieving alike, is one that brings hope to many in our dark hours. Thank you x

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