Personalizing Grief

Grief is so personal. Each person reacts differently to the death of a loved one, and certainly the circumstances and relationships are unique to each situation. How can one judge whether or not someone is reacting “appropriately”? How can one decide if grief is normal or complicated by other factors?

Even years later, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, anniversaries of death, and other triggers can cause the sadness and grief to rear up again, and the tears flow. I’ve been feeling this as my parents’ wedding anniversary approaches and the third anniversary of friend’s death has just passed. As I think of it, my brother’s birthday was a few weeks ago as well. Thinking of these dates, it’s no wonder that I have been feeling sad, with tears falling more frequently.
I remind myself to be gentle with myself, to not judge the sadness as anything abnormal. I say the same things to my clients – “be gentle with yourself,” “go easy.”
Here’s an affirmation I’m trying out: I wrap myself in love, honoring my feelings. I feel compassion and loving kindness.
At work, my colleagues and I are developing a new bereavement program to support the families of those who have recently gone through the death of a loved one. It is a special task, and again, every person responds and reacts differently. I am so blessed to be able to be a trusted listener and supporter. It is not easy work, but it is so important.
I am drawing from the grief counseling I received after my brother died. The most important thing for me was to be listened to. No feeling is trivial. Every thought counts. I want to thank those who helped me and inspired me to go into this work.
I also appreciate and bless each person who trusts me to go through this process with them.

Grief is individual, personal, real, and necessary to go through following the death of a loved one.

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