GRIEF AND HEALING
WHAT IS GRIEF?
The word “grief” is the simple shorthand we use for what is actually a highly complex mixture of thoughts and feelings. Grief is everything we think and feel inside after someone we love dies or leaves or something we are attached to goes away. In other words, grief is the instinctive human response to loss.
Grief is natural and necessary. Our culture tends to deny, diminish, and judge the pain of grief, but the truth is that grief is not something to be afraid of, hide from, or think of as “bad” or “weak.” It is not an illness or mental-health problem. If you are grieving, rest assured that what you are experiencing is not only normal, it is the very thing that will help you heal.
RECONCILING OUR GRIEF
We’re sure you understand by now that love never ends. We continue to love those who have died. Because grief is love’s twin, grief never ends either.
We don’t “recover from” or “get over” grief. Instead, we become reconciled to it. We learn to live with it and integrate it into our continued living. We come to reconciliation in our grief journeys when the full reality of the loss becomes a part of us. Healing is not returning to an old normal but rather creating a new normal.
Our grief does soften, however. It we explore, embrace, and express it along the way, it eventually becomes less painful. The more actively we grieve, mourn, and meet our six needs of mourning, the more likely we are to live the rest of our days with meaning, love, and joy.
There is darkness and pain in grief, but there is also hope. We have loved, and we must now muster the courage to mourn.
GRIEF vs. MOURNING
If grief is what we think and feel inside, what is mourning? Mourning is the outward expression of our grief.
Mourning is crying, talking about the loss, journaling, sharing memories, and telling stories. Other ways to mourn include praying, making things, joining in ceremonies, and participating in support groups. Mourning is how, over time, we begin to heal. It is through active and honest mourning that we reconstruct hope and meaning in our lives.
GENERAL GRIEF RESOURCES
AARP Grief & Loss: a collection of resources and an on-line support community.
National Funeral Directors Association: Frequently Asked Questions about grief.
American Cancer Society – Support to cancer patients, family and friends.
Growth House – Discusses hospice care, dying with dignity, terminal illness, grief and bereavement.
GROWW.org – message boards, resource listings and secure chat rooms for the grieving.
WidowNet - an information and support resource for, and by, widows and widowers.
-Grief Resources For Families
National SIDS and Infant Death Program Support Center – provides research, education, and support for families dealing with SIDS.
Bereaved Parents USA – a nationwide organization designed to aid and support bereaved parents and their families.
The Compassionate Friends – supports families who have experienced the death of a child.
-Grief Resources For Children
Fernside Online – an online resource for grieving children.
The Dougy Center – the first center in the United States to provide peer support groups for grieving children. They provide support and training locally, nationally and internationally to individuals and organizations seeking to assist children in grief.