■ Appropriate grieving
■ Acceptance of the stages of adjustment
■ Strategies for moving forward
I'm sure you have heard the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but have you heard of the story about Grandpa and the Four Bears? The story starts off sad but ends up with something glad. Perhaps we could call it "How Little Bear Moved from Sad to Glad."
Little Bear had lived all her life with Big Brother Bear, Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Grandpa Bear in the woods. The sad part of the story happens right at the start. One day Mama Bear told Little Bear, "Grandpa Bear has gone to live with God in bear heaven."
Big Brother Bear wasn't so gentle. He just said to Little Bear, "Grandpa's dead."
Little Bear ran into her bedroom crying. Her mother came in and put her arm around her. Mama Bear's eyes were wet and red. Little Bear knew she had been crying, too.
"I don't want him to be dead," said Little Bear.
"I know," Mama Bear said comfortingly. "None ofus want him to be dead but, when bears grow old, they die. It's not sometime we can do anything about. As you know," she continued, "Grandpa Bear had been sick and hurting for a while. Now he won't be hurting anymore."
When Mama Bear left, Big Brother Bear walked by and said, "Only sissies cry."
Little Bear saw Big Brother Bear's eyes looked wet and red, too, so she couldn't feel too angry with him. In fact, she didn't quite know how she felt—sort of weak and upset and sad and shocked, all together. Since Mama Bear had said it was okay to cry, Little Bear lay on her bed, buried her head in the pillow, and had a good cry.
It was strange at the funeral. There were Uncle Bears and Auntie Bears and Cousin Bears and Friend Bears, many with tears in their eyes. Seeing them helped Little Bear know she didn't always have to be strong and brave like Big Brother Bear said.
"Lots of bears loved Grandpa," Mama Bear explained as Little Bear looked around at the big crowd.
She didn't want to think of Grandpa Bear in a wooden box, even though all the Bear family had walked by, seen him, touched him, and said goodbye. She didn't want to think, as the box rolled away through some little doors, that she would never see him again.
Over the next few days, or it might have even been a few weeks, Little Bear continued to feel sad. She didn't want to do much, didn't feel hungry, and wasn't interested in playing with her bear friends as usual.
One night Mama Bear sat on her bedside and asked, "When you think of Grandpa Bear, what do you think about?"
Little Bear answered, "About him being dead and how sad I am without him."
"Then just close your eyes for a moment," said Mama Bear, "and think about the fun times you had together while he was alive. When were you happiest?"
With her eyes closed, Little Bear answered, "Most of all I liked sitting on his lap while he told me funny stories. I liked it when he helped me make cards for you on birthdays and Mother's Day. He always liked what I did and told me how he loved me."
"Then," said Mama Bear, "when you think about him in the future, it might be helpful to just close your eyes and remember those special moments you shared with him."
She did. And that is how Little Bear helped move from being sad to enjoying glad memories of Grandpa Bear.
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