Living the Protective Factors
When most people think about the protective factors, they think of parenting or child welfare. Eight years after my introduction to them, I am finally beginning to think about the protective factors as a framework for a happy, fulfilled life.
In the past 2 years, I have said forever goodbyes to both of my parents. In May of 2017, my dad died suddenly two days after finding out he had cancer. I was a wreck. I am just now working my feelings out. Fast forward 18 months and I was still in deep mourning - my mom had a fatal heart attack while sitting in a beach chair on her favorite beach. For the first two days, I was in shock - almost as if I was living my days underwater. Late on the second day, I was looking at crematoriums and found a button that said, “Sign up for Daily Grief Affirmations.” On auto-pilot, I pushed the button and put my email in. When the first one arrived, it moved me, and I promised myself that I would read each one and take their advice to heart each day. Today was Day #44.
These affirmations have been exactly what I need on some rotten days. Some are on bouncing back. Some are letting friends in. Some are understanding the process. Some are finding good help for the multiple tasks at hand. And some are about putting your feelings into words. I am not sure if the crematorium knows the names for the protective factors, but I do. I recognized them, which gave the affirmations much more weight in my heart and mind.
As the days have unfolded, I can say that this loss, which is my most significant to date, has been more bearable because I am living the protective factors. This framework has held me up in a way that has been comforting and familiar. It’s been my fallback - and I am trusting them. I know that someday I will think of my mom and dad and smile at the memories instead of weep, which speaks to my resilience. For social connections, I have let my friends and family wrap their arms around me, allowed them to comfort me and grieve with me. I have had to reach out beyond my own knowledge and learn about the process of estate management, honoring that knowledge is part natural and part learned. I have had to ask for help – a lot. Attorneys, realtors, and service providers, all concrete support, have been lifesavers. And the hardest - I have had to speak my feelings, my anguish, and my desperation to wake up from this nightmare out loud. Communicating my feelings, thoughts, and emotions is necessary when life is bad and good.
The protective factors are much, much more than just a parenting framework. They are a foundation I can pull on when needed. For parenting and for life.