Grief is an extremely difficult thing to navigate through. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some may retreat into themselves and others may lash out. Individuals should not be held accountable for how they process the loss of a loved one. Those going through grief should know that they are not held to any particular standard when it comes to grieving. There is no established timeline or stages to be followed.
Due to everyone having different ways of grieving, those who are not going through it themselves should give grace to those who are. Only those individuals themselves know what they’re truly feeling, what their connection to the deceased was and the changes they’ll encounter with them no longer with them in the physical world.
When multiple members of a family are grieving the loss of a loved one, the different ways everyone processes may cause heads to butt. Some may be angry, some may be depressed and some may retreat into themselves for reflection. A coworker of mine recently lost his dad unexpectedly. Initially when grieving, he was angry and not understanding how or why this could have happened. After a few weeks, he changed his grief into a feeling of obligation to become the man of the house and look after his siblings and mom, becoming more of a leader type.
His mom processed her grief much differently. At first she felt abandoned by her husband and then transitioned into a need for understanding how/why this could happen and what her life without him looked like. My co-worker felt the need to be the stronghold for his mom therefore cutting his grieving time short. As time passes and they continue to navigate this process together, my coworker is wanting to relocate and start anew. This triggered his mom to once again feel abandoned and left alone causing him to then change his mind.
Grief is never an easy thing to go through. It can be messy. It can have good days and bad. Days where we see no possibility of carrying on and days that carry hope. It is an important time to be greeted with compassion, empathy and the freedom to navigate emotions as that particular person sees fit.
How we support a grieving individual can also look different. That person may need a distraction, something to reinstill hope. They may need a place where they can just have some quiet while also knowing someone supportive is nearby. They may need to go to a rage room and beat some old electronics with a sledgehammer to blow off some steam. The best thing someone who is trying to offer support to a grieving individual is to ask. Tell them you want to be there for them but need to know what would help them best. That gesture alone speaks the loudest.
If you are grieving, give yourself the grace and time to navigate through the many waves of emotion you are feeling. Tell yourself there is no “cutoff” to when you should start feeling normal again. If you feel your grief is too heavy a burden to manage on your own and with a support system, there are professionals who can help you through. Try reaching out to a local mental health professional or call a toll-free hotline. One is the Safe Helpline, available 24/7 at (877) 995-5247.
Have you been through grief and found something that helped that you feel can help others? Let us know below.