LAST FRIDAY, Toddles, our friend’s little pup, was killed by a car near where they live.
As the family cried about their beloved dog, their 5-year-old son played quietly in a corner. When asked how he was, he told a fictitious story about how his puppy had died in England, thus distancing and cushioning himself from the pain. His mother asked him how he felt about that, and he said “I was very sad, Mommy”.
Dissociation in time and/or place is one effective way to handle overwhelming emotions, while acknowledging their existence.