Understanding the Grief Journey

Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.Eskimo saying

Grief is not a series of stages or a neatly defined process.  It is an experience that is unique to you and your relationship with the person you have lost. Because it is "your" grief and different from everyone else. It can be scary and unpredictable. There is no set formula to heal. Grief is not just one feeling but a compilation of many - sometimes conflicting feelings.  It also is a journey with many thoughts, physical responses and spiritual questions that we all  have to experience in order to heal. Because grief is such a complex experience, it is important to pay attention to it.

It's important to take care of yourself physically and mentally and be patient with yourself - Grief is hard. 

If you’re trying to support a family member or friend, figuring out the right things to say or do can seem daunting. Luckily, you’ve already taken the first step towards helping them, simply through the act of caring. But sometimes, you might wish to do a little more to show support.  Some people feel a sense of support through a thoughtful gift like a card or flowers. Others respond better to you just taking the time to sit, reflect and share stories with them.

Consider some of the resources we have here for you, to help in your grief journey.

Get support in the comfort of your own home.

Grief is hard to take on alone and you don’t need to go at it alone. You might be hesitant to ask others for help, and that’s why many find these interactive videos helpful to exploring their own emotions and feelings. Dr. Virginia Simpson is an Executive Counseling Director who created a set of online grief resources, which can help you cope in the way that feels right to you. She takes you through the dimensions and dynamics of grief, helping you to discover coping techniques that heal and encourage you to move forward. Click here to access interactive e-aftercare.

Children grieve too 

Children may not understand the details and specifics, but they can often surprise you with their sensitivity and instinctual way of detecting grief. As the adult, you want to find ways to help them celebrate the life of your loved one and enjoy happy memories and stories.

The most important way to support your family is to simply listen to them and pay close attention to the feelings and needs of younger ones. If you sense any serious change in behavior, talk to them to try to get to the root of their feelings.

For additional help, refer to this great resource from Sesame Street, which will help your family move forward in a healthy and educated manner.

Ways you can support the ones you care about

Supporting your friends and family does not have to be complicated. Here are just a few powerful ways you can show support to your loved ones during this difficult time:

  • Share memories. Stories and memories can be incredibly healing during difficult times.
  • Be there for them whenever possible, let them know they are not alone.
  • Listen. Sometimes people just need to be heard and not judged.
  • Give a small gift to show your love and support. It could be flowers, a favorite food, or a book that brings them joy. 

Additional resources for support.

No one should have to experience grief alone. If you’re having a hard time, reach out to friends and family and let them know that you need them there. There’s no shame in asking for help.

If you want to help support a loved one in need, just let them know that you’re there for them, at any time of the day.  If you need additional help, you'll find several other resources on our Grief Support Resources page

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