When you experience a loss, know that all feelings are okay. It takes great strength and courage to grow through grief. Grief is hard work and there is no formula or timeline that works the same for everyone. Each person will approach, manage and express grief differently. Some days will be harder than others. Be patient with yourself.
When adjusting to loss it may seem impossible to believe, but you will not stay in deep grief forever. Your pain comes from wishing things were different. That your life did not change. In time, you will transcend grief. It will not define you. One day at a time. One step at a time. Self-care is important when adjusting to loss.
Creating a self-care toolbox to help you through the pain can be helpful.
An example of what a self-care tool box might look like:
• Tools for expression like a journal, sketchpad, watercolors, scrapbook materials, clay or a stress ball.
• A list of self-care strategies that you can implement such as: exercise, listening to music, talking to friends and family you know to be supportive listeners, meditation, guided imagery CD’s, etc.
• A paper with favorite memories, inspirational quotes or prayers
• Contact information for local resources such as Hospice, The Gathering Place, a grief therapist.
Remember, asking for and receiving help takes great self-awareness, self-care and courage. It is completely understandable if you find yourself overwhelmed with the notion of getting through the day. What could be harder? Enlist the help of close friends, family members, a social worker or clergy.
When you want to support a friend, family member, or coworker who has lost a loved one, recognize that you cannot “fix” or take away their pain. You can share in their grief. When sharing in their grief, you may express yourself by saying: I hear your pain. I see your pain. I feel your pain. You are not alone. We will move through this together.
Be mindful that grief work is messy and unpredictable. A grief sharer understands that there are no right words. There is no recipe, no one size fits all, no right way and no wrong way to grieve.
Grief sharing is a verb not an adjective. When someone is grieving, actions speak louder than words. Take action, don’t make an open ended offer. When offering, there’s a probability that you will be turned down. Let your friend, family member or co-worker know that you’re stopping by to mow the lawn, shovel. Plant some flowers. Drop off meals. Send cards. Help with rides. Help with laundry. Walk the dog, and the list goes on.
Grief sharers show their unconditional support by having no expectations. They remain mindful that there is no timeline or “normal” in grief. Sharing in grief means respectfully following the lead of the person grieving. A grief sharer must remain aware of their intentions and prepare to be patient, flexible, and open. There is no quick fix or getting over grief. Grief is something you grow through.
I hear your pain. I see your pain. I feel your pain. You are not alone. We will move through this together.