In today’s blog, I am going to focus on the topic of grief and loss. I have specialized in grief and loss for a majority of my career and I am a Certified Grief Counselor and am very passionate about helping people in their grief journey. I am going to share from my own personal and professional experience the things I think help people the most when they are grieving. First, we will start with what grief means. Grief is the feelings associated with a loss whether it is from death, divorce, abandonment, etc. For the purpose of this blog I am going to focus on grief due to death which is also called bereavement.
Everyone grieves differently. No two people grieve the same way. The way a person grieves and the severity of their grief depends on a variety of factors including, how the person died (was it in an accident, a suicide or following a prolonged illness), the person’s relationship with the deceased, how old the person was and how the bereaved persons support system is. Grief is not a neat, orderly process, there are lots of ups and downs. I usually compare grief to a roller coaster, but the biggest difference is that you don’t know when you are going to be knocked down by your feelings. Grief bursts are those overwhelming feelings that seem to come out of nowhere. They can be triggered by someone you see, a smell, a sound, maybe a song on the radio or even a taste.
I don’t believe there is a timetable on grief. Some people hold ono their grief and have a harder time coping and for longer compared to other people. I think a major loss is something someone will never get over, but learn how to deal with and accept although you don’t have to like it. I believe it is a turning point in someone’s grief journey when you can remember the good memories of that person and be grateful for them rather than focusing on all of the things the deceased person isn’t here for. This is a process that will take some people only a short amount of time and will take someone else years.
How can you help yourself when you are grieving?
If you find that you are really struggling and having a difficult coping contact a grief counselor. Not all therapists are trained in grief and loss so make sure to ask specific questions about their experience in working with bereaved individuals. Check out your local Hospice as they are a great resource for all community members. Don’t judge yourself for having a hard time and there are lots of great therapists out there that can help you move through this process.
Join a grief and loss group, hearing other people’s stories and knowing you’re not alone can be very helpful. There are loss specific groups especially for survivors of suicide as well as specific grief and loss camps for children which are amazing experiences for children and teens.
Establish a new relationship with the deceased. Just because a person has died doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to have a relationship with that person, in a different way. Close your eyes and picture them happy and healthy and talk to them. You can do this activity as often as you want to.
Self-care is extremely important- whether its meditation, yoga, exercising, journaling, reading, doing art- find something you enjoy and do it and often! Take time for yourself and surround yourself by people who care about you and support you in your grief journey.
Allow yourself permission to grieve and mourn- it’s not easy, but sometimes leaning into the pain and sitting with your feelings is the best thing you can do for yourself. And don’t be surprised if a death brings up other feelings from other losses- this is normal.
I hope this blog helps you if you are going through a difficult time coping with the death of a loved one. Please feel to contact me if you have any questions or if there is a way I can help you in your grief journey.