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I was deeply touched by the conversation featured with Erin Davis on The Spin in March, 2019. She spoke so generously about her experiences of losing and grieving her daughter in an unexpected way a few years ago.
One poignant thing Erin had so rightly mentioned is that grief is not something that is openly talked about a lot.
And I do feel it’s really important to talk about grief and loss, because it is something that we all experience at one point or another.
However, I suspect that one of the reasons it is often not a topic of discussion is because it is a tough subject matter to talk about.
Not only does it feel so difficult, it is also an incredibly private and individual experience as well.
“Grief is unique and individual”.
Not only is grief itself complex, our individual experiences of grief can be very unique and different.
Additionally, how you might grieve during one loss can be very different from how you grieve another loss.
A particular experience of grief and loss can be based on how you feel about the situation or person, the circumstances and unresolved feelings, etc.
We, as individuals, also possess unique feelings about loss. It all plays a role in how the grief process might be.
It’s so important to understand that while we can all relate to loss, we will never completely understand the experience of another person’s grief.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ Five Stages of Grief
There is relatively very little discussion about the process of moving through emotions in general.
But with something as strong and unavoidable as grief, it can help to frame the stages of grief as a process. Which can then help to make sense of the difficulty and complexity of grief.
Where I think the 5 Stages of Grief is so powerful, is that it gives a roadmap, of sorts, of what can be a part of going through the process of grieving.
This can be so valuable to know when grieving a loss can feel so terrible, confusing and perhaps, never-ending.
But the key is that while it can help to have a roadmap, the journey of grieving isn’t linear.
It can often be quiet meandering. Additionally, even with an outlined process, it doesn’t meant that it’s possible to rush through it.
For some people, properly grieving can take a shorter amount of time, while for others, it can last for a very, very long time. Again, the process is so unique and individual.
The 5 Stages of Grief at least can give a sense of what to expect and what may be happening at certain times. Being able to get even a little sense when things may not make a lot of sense, can be a source of some comfort.
Helpful Tips Around Grief
Grief is often delayed for for those who are immediately impacted by it.
One of the things I don’t hear being talked about very often is that for those who have lost a close family member, grief can often be delayed based on immediate, more practical responsibilities that may be required, such as organizing the memorial and estate arrangements, and supporting other people’s grief.
Supporting Those In Grief
When someone you know is grieving, where they are in their grieving process and who they are as individuals, will make a difference as to how to provide thoughtful and compassionate support.
Erin, Barry and Michelle on the The Spin talked about the power of a hug and showing your compassion through non-verbal means, because words are not always the most appropriate means to offer support.
Often we might say, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” And it’s absolutely generous to offer, but it can also be helpful to keep in mind that many people often don’t know what to ask for in a time of intense grief.
If some time has passed since the initial loss and you notice there is some sadness, you can offer to talk or let them know you are there for them. Holidays, birthdays and other special occasions can be particularly tough.
Again, everybody is different and navigating grief is complicated. But acknowledging their loss, and the ups and downs that’s part of grieving can be a source of support.
Resources for Working Through Grief
As it is true with most things and as discussed here in this post, different people have different needs when it comes to working through grief.
Many grieve and work through their loss and sadness privately or with the support of a few close-knit trusted individuals around them.
However, in the event that a few resources can be helpful for you or someone you know, consider the following:
Mourning Has Broken: Love, Loss and Reclaiming Joy by Erin Davis
On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Therapy or Counselling
If professional support in the form of psychotherapy or counselling may be helpful, consider consulting with someone who specializes or has experience working with grief.
As with seeking support from a therapist or counsellor for grief, it could be helpful to check with individual groups as to whether it is facilitated by someone trained to work with grief.
It can also be helpful to keep in mind that there are also specific kinds of grief and support groups, and it can be that much more specific and meaningful to seek out groups who specialize in, for instance, a grief group for losing a pet or family member or a child.
You may also consider asking about the size of a group before attending, should you prefer a larger group versus a smaller, more intimate group or vice versa.
Experiencing grieving and loss can be some of the most difficult times in life. Whether it’s you or someone you know, it’s important to know that it is a process, albeit not exactly linear, and it takes time for things to feel “more normal” again.