Grief and loss are experiences we all go through. When we think of grieving we usually think of losing a loved one through death. There are, of course, many other losses that prompt grieving: the loss of a relationship through divorce or breakup, the loss of children when they leave home, or other life transitions that cause us to feel as if something crucial has been lost.

In recent months, I’ve seen several clients who are experiencing a different kind of grief. They’re grieving the loss of a happy childhood due to parents that were not there for them when they were young. Some suffered physical, emotional or sexual abuse by a parent. Others had a parent who was not emotionally present because of their own difficult childhood experiences. The losses these people endured happened a long time ago, but are just being noticed now as they process what happened to them. As such, there’s a fresh feeling of grief that washes over them as they realize that they never got the love they needed. 

In addition to the work we do in session on grief, I’ve been looking for informative articles to help these clients through the process. Surprisingly, I have found very few. I easily find information on the 5 stages of grief, along with tools and suggestions about how to go through those stages. However, most of those articles miss the mark for my clients who have a less tangible form of grief than the recent loss of a relationship. The articles don’t speak to them because they’re so specific to the tangible losses.

Then, I came across the attached article. It, too, begins discussing the 5-stages of grief and tangible losses, but the steps it describes for addressing loss seem much more general and relevant for my clients who are experiencing loss of a loving childhood. The steps:

  1. Acknowledge and accept the feelings
  2. Start taking steps to fill the void within
  3. Learn to grow from the loss
  4. Replace the negative feelings with positive ones
  5. Feel liberated and move forward
  6. Learn to become more emotionally stable
  7. Start evaluating your faith

are practical, and provide some grounded and concrete ways one can begin moving through grief of any sort – whether loss of a specific person, or loss of a happy childhood. The article is attached here, and provides more detail on each of the steps. If you are grieving a loss and would like more support, Compatible Counseling Solutions is happy to help with an assessment and either a referral or ongoing counseling. For more information: