An unfortunate fact of life is that we will experience the death of a loved one. For most of you, you have already faced this loss. For some of you, you may be facing this experience right now. As I am writing this post in December 2018, my wife and I received word yesterday that an extended family member, a loved one, is in deteriorating health and we all are facing this reality now.
Community is essential when dealing with grief. This community needs to different than family and friends though. Family and friends are an important part of dealing with grief and we will cover them in a moment, but for now we need to talk about a different community. You need to be around other people who have experienced the death of someone they cared about. You need to be able to talk openly and honestly about how you feel...how angry you are...how sad you are...how lonely. One way to have this community is to join GriefShare. GriefShare is a nationwide program that helps people to deal with grief. It supplies you with information that will help throughout the grieving process. That information is extremely valuable but I think the insight you will get from others who are also processing grief during the small group discussions is priceless. It is not uncommon for someone in the group to share exactly what you needed to hear at that exact moment.
2. Be Emotional
According to grief.com, the five stages of grief are:
Many people believe that you go through these stages one at a time. That is not the case for most of us. You don't finish one step and then move on to the next. Instead, you move between each stage on a seemingly daily basis throughout the whole process. This is important to know because many people will put undue stress and pressure on themselves thinking that they should have already dealt with one stage completely, for example anger, because they have already performed some bargaining. Grief is not a linear process and it will not look the same for any two people and it will not look the same for you for every loss you experience.
Please do not hold back your tears...do not hold back your laugh...do not hold back your anger. Your emotions need to be released. Early on in the process of grieving, you will not be in control of your emotions and this is good. Do not be ashamed of it or try harder to stuff those emotions deep inside. They need to be expressed. This is where family and friends can be immensely helpful. Spend time with them remembering good times and funny things that happened. It is okay to laugh. This may not happen initially, but in time you will be able to laugh. Spend time looking at old photos. Will this be difficult? Of course it will, but it will also be of great value.
3. Do NOT Get Over It
I have heard people being told that they need to get over the death of their husband because it has been a year since he died. This is absurd! You do not need to get over the death of your loved one. The person you love has value and losing them is worthy of your grief. Losing them is difficult and hard. Losing them is painful. Losing them is all of those things and more because they are so valuable. I do not want to get over my grandmothers or my dad. I want to remember them. I will always be moved to tears when I think about them because I love them. I always will!
You have probably heard the saying that time heals all wounds. This is simply not true. Time does not heal the wounds, but things do get easier with time. Most of us wonder what it looks like to grieve well. As mentioned earlier, grief never looks the same for different people or different losses. However, one GriefShare member who was looking for that answer was able to define what grieving well looks like. Grieving well does not mean that you don't cry or only cry for a specified time period. Grieving well means that you are able to face your thoughts and emotions as they come up. You don't run from them or pretend they do not exist. In fact, sometimes you even seek those emotions out to experience them.