Grief is a natural response to loss. Grieving is important because it allows us to ‘free-up’ energy that is bound to the lost person — allowing us to re-invest that energy elsewhere. Until we grieve we are likely to find reinvesting difficult; a part of us remains tied to the past.
Grieving is not forgetting. Grieving results in an ability to remember the importance of our loss—but with a new found sense of peace, rather than searing pain. No two people experience grief in the same way. The way we think and feel, the way our body functions, and the way we interact with others may all be affected.
“Bereaved Families has helped me to see that my experience of grieving is unique and individual. That just because I am reacting differently than others think I should be… doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me. I am going to be OK”.
Parent participant in Art Therapy for Grief
Grief changes us. The support that we receive or fail to receive following a loss shapes the quality of the changes that arise from our grief. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, people who are well supported in their grief often experience healthy outcomes from loss, while buried grief has been identified as one of the root causes of many of the most pressing challenges that communities face including addictions, crime, low academic achievement, mental health problems, and physical illness. Allowing others to help us is good insurance that we will find our way through the wilderness of grief and to vital living.
“I learned that I wasn’t alone in my grief and pain. A lot of what others shared really helped me see my own ‘story’ from a new perspective and I left each night feeling that I could cope better with each day of the coming week.”
Participant in Loss by Suicide group
Grief versus Mourning:
You may have noticed that people tend to use the words “grieving” and “mourning” interchangeably. In fact, there is an important distinction. Grief is what happens on the inside. It is like the container that holds all of your thoughts, feelings, images related to your loss.
Mourning is when you take the grief you have on the inside and express it outside yourself, ideally in the presence of understanding, compassionate people. Talking about the person who died, crying, or expressing your feelings through art or music are examples of mourning. Many people grieve. Few mourn. Instead of being encouraged to express grief outwardly, we are often greeted with messages that relay an impatience or intolerance toward mourning, such as “move on,” and “keep busy”. Many people end up grieving within themselves in isolation, instead of outside of themselves in the presence of kind companions. That’s one of the reasons we offer peer support groups and memorial events. Both grief and mourning are necessary to heal and to experience a renewed sense of meaning and purpose.