Grief & Loss
Navigating grief and loss can be tricky, not only for oneself, but supporting another as well. If you didn't catch my recent Facebook page share, here is a great blog post by Counsellor Kathy Kutzer about supporting someone you care about through grief: https://kathykutzercounselling.ca/2018/08/01/walking-with-grief/. I was inspired by her post and it felt like the right time to share some of my own insight into grief.
Grief impacts everyone individually and the healing journey through it is unique as well. Grief has been a familiar theme in my life for the past 8 years or so, and I noticed that I even processed and healed from each loss differently. So not only is it different for each person, but each loss as well.
In my experience the only way to do grief 'wrong' is to try and ignore it. It's not necessarily wrong per say, but it will cause one to endure a whole lot more pain and suffering then necessary. And I can say from first hand experience it tends to creep up and make itself known at the most opportune moments. Sometimes one needs a formal goodbye through a service, sometimes it's a different form of ceremony or ritual. It can be memorializing dates or events, such as a loved ones birthday or the day of the loss. However you choose to acknowledge it you have to do what is right for you.
Sometimes grief and loss can feel like navigating a dark cave, just searching for the light. You may notice people aren't sure what to say or do. Sometimes they may say things that make you feel worse, but know that for the most part it comes from the right place and with intent to bring comfort. If a person hasn't worked through their own grief they may also carry that into how they respond to you. I have encountered many responses, some helpful and some not, but I try to remind myself it's said in an effort to try and comfort in times of pain.
When you have a friend who is trying to navigate grief and work through a loss, the best thing you can do is be open to listen. Don't try to offer suggestions or sayings of hope, just acknowledge that it must be hard, and you know they are strong and will get through it.
When someone is facing loss hearing that things happen for a reason, or that it will pass can make a person's pain feel invalidated, and like they need to rush through the healing and just get on with it. You can also ask them if there is anything you can do to help? And if the person is like me, you will offer and they will say thank you, but they are unlikely to actually ask, even if they want to. Would bringing a prepared meal help, or running to the store to pick up a few things? Offering an idea or two can help show what you are willing to do and decrease the overwhelm of thinking about what would be helpful, and they may ask for something specific. You can never go wrong with food, especially something that can be thrown in the freezer! Nothing is more precious then a friend who can sit with you in moments of silence or tears, not say a word, and in their stillness you find comfort.
If you find yourself navigating grief, please be kind and compassionate with yourself, it's a process with no end date. I believe we don't get over loss, we just learn how to carry it so it no longer feels as heavy.