By Kelly Daugherty, LCSW-R, GC-C, BC-TMH
This list is from my years of experience working with grieving individuals and from what I have learned through my own grief journey.
Grief is normal, natural, and healthy. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.
Grief is the feelings associated with a loss. This loss could be due to death, end of a relationship, someone moving away, loss of a job, etc.
Bereavement is grief related to the death of a loved one.
Mourning is the outward expression of grief.
Everyone grieves differently. Your relationship, the length of your relationship, how the person died can all contribute to how a person experiences grief, and the intensity of it. Even if the person that died was someone that hurt you or caused you pain doesn’t mean that you won’t grieve them.
There are no stages of grief. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote about the five stages of grief for terminally ill patients. These stages were not meant to represent what someone will experience when they are grieving. Kubler-Ross even wrote that she regretted those stages were used to explain grief. Grief is not linear and not predictable. I believe in more of the Dual process model of bereavement, which shows grief is not neat and orderly, and individuals will go back and forth through their grief.
There is no timetable on grief. Grief is not something you ever get over; it is something you learn to live with.
Everyone grieves differently, and everyone moves towards acceptance and healing at different rates. For some people, the first year is the worst as they experience each holiday, birthday, anniversary without their loved one and they are adjusting to their new life without that person. However, sometimes the second year is worse than the first year as people move towards acceptance and the reality that their loved one is not ever going to be with them again.
Grief bursts will occur. Grief bursts are intense feelings of grief that come out of nowhere. Sometimes you can identify the trigger like a song on the radio, a scent, or seeing someone that looks like the deceased loved one, and sometimes there are no triggers.
Nighttime’s tend to be the hardest for grieving individuals as people are settling down, and then they start thinking about their loved one.
The weeks leading up to an anniversary or a birthday tend to be worse than the actual day. Some anniversaries or birthday will be harder than others, and some years an individual will not even know why they are upset until you realize what day it is.
Lean into your pain of grief. Trying to avoid your grief will not work. Grief will have a way of resurfacing later in time even years later.
Grief tends to be compounded by past losses, and you may find yourself re-grieving for a past death of a loved one when you experience another death.
Take breaks from your grief. It is ok to do things for yourself and practice self-compassion. Grief is exhausting and hard work, and you will need to take breaks from it.
Stay tuned for the next topic in this blog series on what are normal symptoms of grief.