Grieving Losses & Building a RAFT

by Jess Cropsey

In recent weeks, people all over the world have grieved uncommon losses of many kinds -- the ability to go to work/school, independence, senior year memories, vacation plans, weddings, feeling of safety, etc. And of course there are those who have lost their jobs or even their own lives because of this pandemic.

While the situation in Burundi is different in certain ways for the time being, our lives also have been upended. As we anticipate the departure of several families and navigate our new way of life in this covid-era, we decided to spend some time with the kids reviewing some common themes in their lives -- loss, grief, and transition. So this is what our school day looked like at Kibuye Hope Academy on Monday ...

We began by reading the first chapter of B At Home in which 10-year old Emma's world is rocked when her parents tell her they're moving...again. It's a chapter book that is highly relatable to children who have experienced a lot of moves, particularly while overseas.

Next, we talked about some of the recent and anticipated losses that we've experienced / will experience as a community and the kids took some time to write about losses that they're feeling as individuals. Regardless of the perceived magnitude of the loss, we've found it important to name them and not brush them under the carpet as "unimportant" or "no big deal".

Using many of the ideas from Misunderstood by Tanya Crossman, we subsequently discussed what grief is, the different ways that people grieve (pre- vs. post- grievers), and why it's important to do it well.

Finally, we walked kids through the RAFT process, which I would highly recommend for anyone (not just overseas workers) facing a big transition. We were introduced to this idea at cross-cultural training and we've found it helpful to walk through together as a family before any move. This time, we had the kids actually build their RAFT using craft sticks, with the name of the step on one side and their answers to the questions on the back. We also added Scripture verses on the support craft sticks on the bottom of the raft.

R (Reconciliation) -- Are there any broken relationships that need to be mended?
A (Affirmation) -- Is there someone who has been particularly important in your life? Make a plan for what you want to tell them and when/how you'll do it.
F (Farewell) -- What special people, places, pets, or other things have been meaningful to you? Make a plan to say good-bye to them.
T (Think Destination) -- Think about where you'll be next. What are your expectations? How will things be similar or different? What are you excited or anxious about?

At the end of the morning, the kids had time to make cards for others as part of the "Affirmation" step. Here's a super creative one that I got from Elise. (I'm pretty sure the fashionable fry only applies when I'm borrowing my mom's clothes.)

You are all on our hearts and minds as you grieve your own losses in this unique period of world history. Please feel free to comment and let us know how we can be praying for you.

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." 
~Psalm 73:26

1 comment:

onewhostrives said...

Beautiful and so well-written. Thanks Jess. Please give all the kiddos a strong, cool, awesome, caring hug from us