Once upon a time, when multi-generational families living together or at least close to each other was common, everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest family member, experienced the cycle of life. What’s more, people tended to be part of a larger community with shared experiences. Because of this connection, from birth to dying, we experienced the joy and the pain of living and loving. We were able to observe how different people dealt with the many emotions that are experienced in a lifetime and learn how to express and cope with the strong emotions that are part of living.
In my personal experience, as a child, when my father died, the family came together for a short time to help my mom with the details of dying. Though we moved to be closer to family and I’m sure all of my relatives wanted to be helpful, the fact that this nearness was new meant that the bonded relationships that might have helped us all deal with our sadness and grief were not in place. Grieving was not something we knew how to do and instead we moved on. Not really the most healthy way of dealing with loss, but thankfully we have survived.
Today, most people live in small family units and may not have any relatives for hundreds of miles. Most people are not closely connected with others. We celebrate our joys and suffer our pain alone. Our children are not learning how to FEEL and deal with the ups and downs that are part of life. This lack of experience can be devastating.
At Lake Tahoe there is a camp that helps young people learn that loss is part of life. This article in the Lake Tahoe News provides a look at what the camp has to offer and some personal stories about how the camp has helped kids deal with loss.
Many of the clients that we deal with are foster kids and they are very definitely dealing with loss. Though their circumstances may have been neglectful/abusive (how do you think they ended up in foster care?) they were part of a ‘family’ and they no longer are. They often feel this loss as deeply as a loss through death. What’s more, their situation remains unsure and unstable as they wait to see if they will ever be reunited with their family and wonder how long they will be in any given foster home. How very, very hard this must be.
Our work with horses can be a of powerful healing experience. Our clients learn about horse and herd behavior and often feel real empathy for their horse. They learn to identify and name the horse’s feelings and become better able to name and express their own feelings as well. In a non-judgmental, non-critical environment many clients feel safe feeling the feelings, that in other places are just too overwhelming. The horse’s warm, strong, steady presence may feel like that comforting lap that is needed to reassure the client, allowing the to process and move past grief.
If you or someone you know is struggling with loss or grief, we may be able to help. Call or email to schedule a visit. We will show you around the ranch, introduce you to our wonderful horses, learn more about what you are going through and share how our program may be able to help.