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5 Things I Learned About Grieving

The five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance
from 5 Stages of Grief by Elisabeth Kubler Ross & David Kessler

Here are 5 things that I learned about grieving:
  1. Each person deals with grief differently
    I've learned by watching a lot of true crime shows, that our culture expects people to deal with grief in a similar fashion. There are certain expectations of how a person should show grief when they have lost a loved one. However, grief doesn't work like that. There are people who are sad, depressed, some who are in shock, some who are relieved that their loved one is no longer in pain. There are those who are angry, those who are in quiet pain, those who do not know what to do. We don't really know how we're going to grieve until it happens to us.
  2. Each person deals with each grief differently
    Something that struck me years ago, after I had two of my closest family members pass away, was how different my grieving was for each person. I was so sad, but it felt different, and that felt weird to me. I spoke with a counselor at that time who said that it's okay to grieve differently. You had a stronger relationship with one of those family members, and it was also the biggest death you have ever dealt with. It's no wonder that the feeling is different.
  3. There is not anything anyone can say or do to make the pain go away
    When someone grieves, there's this desire to want to say or do the right thing. To try to help them through it, and to lessen the pain and intensity they're feeling. But there really isn't a right thing to say. I hate to say this, but there is a wrong thing to say. I have never directly been told this, but I have heard this from others who are grieving. They've been told, “When are you going to get over this?” Or “When are you going to get back to normal.” It's possible this person will never be back to “normal” depending on who they lost. They will have to learn how to live with a new normal.
  4. You have to allow yourself to feel the pain, in order to get through it
    A lot of times, we want to rush through feelings. When we are hurt, we want that feeling to be over, so we figure out ways to not think about it, focus on other things. We think we're doing ourselves a favor by getting on with our life. And while it is good to get on with life, and focus on other things, we will not truly feel healed, unless we allow ourselves to feel our way through the loss. It will not go away by ignoring it. While time doesn't necessarily heal the wound of losing someone, it will get more manageable over time. To lose someone, especially someone so close, it can feel like there is a hole in your life that can never be filled. And as horrible of a feeling as that is, it's important to allow yourself time to feel it, and to grieve over it. But you don't have to be alone, and you don't have to be strong for everybody else. This leads me to my next topic.
  5. If you can, surround yourself by loved ones who are either going through the same thing, or are there to support you. This will be so helpful for your grief, to surround yourself with others who know how you feel. What's sad is that sometimes death can tear families apart if they don't agree on how their loved one was cared for at the end, or maybe they don't agree on the division of property/money of the lost loved one. Family is so important at this time, so if you have family that will love and support you, take advantage of that support. If however, you find yourself without family, then find a friend or two you can lean on, who will listen to you and be there in your time of need. If you find yourself unable to connect with friends, then try a grief support group, or counseling. The county where I live, there are a few organizations that provide free grief counseling, and free group therapy for those who are grieving.

Also, take it easy on yourself. Give yourself time to heal, be gentle. Do things that you love, with people who love you.

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