Family Magazine

The Three P's: Learning To Deal with Loss and Disappointment

By Joanigeltman @joanigeltman
This past weekend I cried.... a lot. Not for anything bad...all good things. I was faclempt, yiddish for full up with emotion. My nephew graduating from medical school, being chosen as the class speaker, and watching him streaming live from graduation.  My niece had a beautiful baby girl, Daisy,the first new generation in our family, and finally I watched the commencement speech that Sheryl Sandberg gave for the Berkeley commencement. The first two were about new beginnings, and Sheryl's was what she learned from the loss of her husband exactly 1 year and 11 days ago. It was a weekend for me about all life has to offer. Below is Sheryl's speech and I encourage you to set aside the twenty of so minutes to listen to this speech rather than read it. Seeing someone's face and articulation of the words is so much more powerful, than reading them
She talked about what she has learned from this great loss, things that all of us can learn from. She talked about the three P's; personalization, pervasiveness and permanence. As she so beautifully explained these words can apply to not just loss, but to life's disappointments and frustrations as well. As she spoked I thought of parenting and of teens. Big surprise!!!
A little explanation first.
So often as a parent out kids suffer whether from losing a friend, not getting a grade they wanted, losing a game, being bullied, breaking up with a boy or girlfriend, and so on. When this happens, parents often wonder, what could I have done??? How could I have helped them, or protected them so they didn't have to feel so bad. We personalize, taking responsibility for something that is not ours to take. Or your kids do the same thing, feeling failure or disappointment in something that happened to them or someone they know, that was truly out of their control. Learning how to let go of the guilt, that is what personalizing is all about.
This refers to the idea that when we are confronted by those powerful feeling of disappointment, or loss, it can sometimes feel as though those feelings will never ever go away. As adults we have experience dealing with these uncomfortable feelings and though in the moment they can overwhelm, we know somewhere inside that it will get better...eventually. Your teens though do not have that experience, and they have a brain built for emotional tornadoes. And when the tornado hits, it can take anything and anyone in its path and throw them around. Nothing and no one can make it that moment. You, their friends, whatever in their life that might have given them joy or comfort in the past, gets all twisted up together. Their life loses all sense of joy. But we know it will get better, and it does.
When we suffer from loss or disappointment, it sometimes feels as though out life has been permanently damaged, beyond repair. What we learn about ourselves during these challenging times, and how we change,  can also be a positive experience.
Listen to Sheryl, and you will be inspired.

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