You are Not Alone in Your Grief

Because grief is such a personal event—no two people experience it in the same way—people tend to feel like they are going through it alone. Siblings, for example. I have seen the death of a parent cause one to completely shut down. She could not get out of bed and cried all the time. Her brother, on the other hand, grew very angry. It was impossible to talk to him about anything without him lashing out. Even though they lost the exact same person, they experienced and expressed their grief in different ways. However, when they talked to each other about their grief, they realized that they had a built-in person who understood exactly what the other had lost. The sister was able to get out of bed, and the brother was able to find a better way to express the emotions he was trying to process.

I highly recommend that family and friends check in with each other daily after a loss. It gives everyone the opportunity to communicate with each other and spot destructive behaviors quickly, before they can escalate. It seems like an arduous task but things like telephone chains can spread the work out across the whole group. Keeping in touch reminds people that they are not isolated in their experience, something that can be easily forgotten after the funeral is over and it feels like everyone else has ‘moved on’.If someone seems like they are particularly struggling, I tell them to report it back to me so that I can suggest extra counseling or other activity that will help the person.

Grief counselling is something I recommend to everyone. Some people feel like a tremendous burden to their loved ones when they don’t grieve ‘fast enough’ or constantly need to talk about their grief and feel like they are ‘bringing everyone else down’. A grief counselor is a neutral party that will listen without judgment and help you move through your grief in a healthy way. Because they are not directly involved in the network of family and friends, you will not feel like a burden to anyone. Instead, they are doing their job, which they chose to do in order to help people just like you. Utilize them. Unburden yourself.

There are also grief support groups. These can be amazingly beneficial. There are specific groups—loss due to cancer, loss of a child, parental loss, and many others. You can look online, ask a counselor, or speak to a clergy member.  Try one out. Sit and listen. Talk if you are feeling comfortable. You will find that there are many people in your community suffering from a similar loss and going through the same things you are. You will learn that your feelings are normal and even healthy. You will also meet people in various stages of grief. Some may be able to provide you with a sense of encouragement—you may need to see people who are coming out the other side so that you know one day, too, you will get there.  If the first group you try isn’t right for you, keep going. Be safe in the knowledge that you are not alone and that you will find people you are comfortable with, and that there is a community of people waiting to support you. If you don’t have the energy to keep going on your own, ask a family member to go with you. It might just be what they need to help them, too.