Grief is such a mysterious process in our society. As a grief therapist, I know there are many questions that come up around grief, what grief is, how to cope, the right and wrong ways to move through grief and everything else in between.
Grief education and grief literacy is an important part of any grief process. Undoing social programming and unlearning the lies we have been fed about grief and how we "should" be in the world is the first step in reclaiming our right to grieve freely and fully. Only then can we move into the expansiveness of living our lives fully - with more freedom, deeper meaning, and more grace for ourselves, others, and the world. We are re-visioning our way forward. Grief processing is an essential part of this.
01. Grief is a Universal Experience
Grief is a natural and universal response to loss. It is not limited to the death of a loved one but can also arise from various other losses, such as the end of a relationship, a significant life change, or the loss of a job. Grief can affect people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds. There is no way out of experiencing grief, it is an inevitable part of being human, of living and loving.
02. Grief Has No Timeline
Grief can be complicated and can last for months or even years. Despite what you’ve been told, there is no timeline for grief. Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. Often we will hear people say "the heals all wounds", and while time may play a roll in our healing process, it is what we do within the time that passes, not just time itself, that has greater impact on our experience.
03. Grief is a Unique Process
How you grieve and for how long will be influenced by many things such as your personality, your loss history, your relationships, your support, the time and space you have to explore your grief and the impact(s) of the loss. There is no “right” or “normal” way to grieve.
Explore more about your grieving archetype by taking this quiz.
04. Coping Looks Different for Everyone
People may explore and exhibit different coping strategies while grieving. These strategies can include (and are not limited to) seeking support from loved ones, seeking out therapy or support groups, engaging in self-care activities, embodying or expressing grief through writing, dance, painting or music, or expressing emotions through other creative outlets, or finding solace and support in spiritual or religious practices. And one of my personal favourites, connecting to the natural world for support and guidance. What's most important is that you find coping strategies that feel good for you. This is your grief and your process, how you cope will also be unique to you. If you are unsure of how to cope, seek support from an experienced and trained grief professional or therapist.
05. Grief is a Whole Person, Whole Bodied Experience
Grief can be experienced physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. It can affect physical health, as well as our mental and emotional wellbeing. Tending to ourselves from a holistic lens in grief is essential.
06. Grief is Not Just Sadness
It is normal to experience a wide range of emotions when grieving, including sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, relief, and gratitude. It is my personal and professional experience that grief is every human emotion wrapped up into one big experience. It can be soft and gentle in some moments and fierce and fiery in others.
07. Love Lives On
Sometimes our relationships with our loved ones can grow closer and even deepen after loss. Continuing bonds theory tells us that after death, we can find ways to maintain connection and ongoing relationship with our loved ones (if we choose). We acknowledge that the bonds we form with others do not end with death, but continue on and evolve to exist in new and different ways.
08. Post Traumatic Growth is Real
While grief can be incredibly painful, it can also be an opportunity for healing, personal growth and discovery. Over time, individuals can learn to integrate their loss into their lives and find ways to honor the memory of their loved ones. Grief can lead to increased resilience, a deepened appreciation for life, life lived closer to one's values, and the development of new perspectives and priorities
Remember, if you or someone you know is struggling with grief, it is important to seek professional help or reach out to support networks available in your community.
>> Over here in my world we aren't doing grief work the way we’ve been sold, taught, and fed throughout our lives. If you’re like me, you’re ready to do it differently. Click here to book a discovery call where we will get to know you, your grief, and invite you into the path that we think would be most supportive for where you're at (no pressure, invitational always, left in your hand to decide your next right step).
>> If you found this article helpful, consider sharing it on social media to help others who might benefit from these perspectives so that together we can create a grief supportive world.
About the Author:
Hayley Yarish is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC), Grief Therapist, Compassionate Bereavement Care Provider, and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®. She specializes in supporting individuals who are navigating loss and grief of any kind. Her own experiences with grief and loss have cracked her heart wide open and led her to doing this sacred work in the world.
Specific areas of focus: death of a loved one (recent or past), life changing transitions, relationship transitions and break ups, pregnancy loss, grief around family planning, and supporting entrepreneurs through the grief that comes with growth.
To learn more about Hayley or to book a session with her, click here.