Recently, I was asked by a local funeral director to consider running a group at his funeral home. As I was mulling over what to include in the information, I came up with a Top Ten List of things I wanted people to know. The list is wordy, so I distilled it further and created a “Grief Heart” handout as well (see below Top Ten List).
As always, please leave your feedback and comments about what resonates with you and what doesn’t.
#10 Grief is an internal experience of all the thoughts and feelings you have when someone you love dies. These feelings may also be experienced as physical symptoms.
#9 Mourning is the outward expression of your grief when you talk about the person who died, or express your thoughts and feelings through art/music, rituals & ceremonies.
#8 Loss often triggers previous grieved losses and the feelings and emotions resurface from the past. There is no time frame for grieving.
#7 Grieving is a journey; a process that requires understanding and self-reflection in order to work through it. During this process, you may feel disconnected from others at times (and that is to be expected, to some extent).
#6 There are no more powerful feelings than those that arise from grief. It has been described as an “earthquake”. “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid but the sensation is like being afraid.” C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.
#5 It may sound counter-intuitive, but your pain is what opens your heart to healing. You are in a vulnerable state and open to changes.
#4 “We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it in the full.” (Marcel Proust) However, feeling your pain all at once would be overwhelming and you must learn to “… feel it in small waves then allow it to retreat until you are ready for the next wave.” (Alan Wolfelt, Touchstone #1)
#3 Storytelling is an important part of mourning. When someone close to you dies, the memories of the death replay over and over in your head; it seems so unbelievable that it’s hard to understand and absorb. Telling the story is necessary to bring your mind and heart together.
#2 Numbness, shock, and disbelief are natural feelings that are psychologically protective until you are able to experience grief fully.
#1 There is no such thing as “closure” and you do not need to “get over” your relationship with someone you love who has died. People grieve differently, and often men and women express their grief differently.
G No need to GET OVER your relationship (seek closure) with the person who has died.
R The feelings from previous losses often RESURFACE from your past.
I Grief is an INTERNAL experience of all your thoughts and feelings when someone dies.
E Mourning is the outward EXPRESSION of your grief.
F Numbness, shock, and disbelief are natural FEELINGS that psychologically protect you, initially.
H Grief eventually HEALS if we let our feelings & emotions build and subside naturally.
E Others’ EXPECTATIONS of how to act don’t need to reflect how or when you grieve & mourn.
A ALLOW yourself to disconnect with others when you need to, without isolating yourself.
R Storytelling in REMEMBRANCE of your loved one brings mind & heart together.
T There is no set TIMEFRAME that you need to work through your grief.