Much has been written about grief. Since so many people have experienced it, many individuals feel they are experts on the subject. Your aunt Helen, your cousin Jill, and uncle Bill may be all too willing to share their experiences and expertise with you. It can be well meaning, mind you, but one person’s reality may not be another’s.
Here are five facts about grief that most experts agree upon.
Grief is Real and Normal
Understanding this simple fact can go a long way toward helping you understand and deal with grief. Grief is not something in your imagination, and you are not abnormal for experiencing it. In fact, when you think about it, not experiencing grief may be more troublesome. Grief is a normal emotional expression and is useful in the healing process. Remind yourself of this and give yourself permission to grieve.
Grief is a Personal Journey
Experts on the subject generally agree that while there may be some commonalities in experiencing grief, everyone experiences it differently. This, too, makes sense in that our relationships with loved ones, life experiences, and emotional sensitivity are all different. Each of us has our own memories, regrets, and experiences with a departed loved one, and those help craft our journey. Sure, those who care about you want to help you, and that should be appreciated. But you should know that this is your experience and your journey, and you are allowed to work through it in your own way.
Grief Can Come in Waves
One troubling aspect of grief is that it can ebb and flow. One day, you may grieve intensely and feel better the next. This can be triggered by a song, a memory, a photo, or even a favored TV show. Eventually, these waves should lessen in intensity and occur less frequently. This is why many suggest that staying active and occupied through the grieving process can be beneficial. It can be disarming to feel like you have gotten past feeling sad, only to have a wave of grief. You will soon be able to move on.
It’s Alright to Seek Help and Support
While grief is a personal journey, it can be very beneficial to seek out help and support from others. This support can be in the form of a cup of coffee or lunch with friends, or by joining an in-person or online support group. Support groups can be particularly beneficial if a death has been unexpected or traumatic. Isolating yourself is rarely a positive solution. Take it at your own pace, but don’t be afraid to reach out or accept an invitation.
Like Love, Grief is a Powerful Emotion
It can be a bit comforting to understand that grief, like love, is a powerful emotion that has both positive and negative aspects. Like love, grief can be heartbreaking and painful, but we are often better off for experiencing it. The more you grieve for someone, the more deeply you likely cared for them. You know what? That’s okay.
If you or someone you know is grieving, have patience and understanding. Accept the well-meaning intentions of others, but understand this journey is a personal one.
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