When someone dies, grief is felt only by that person=s
family members and close friends.
In reality, grief is felt by anyone with an emotional attachment
to the deceased, whether we know the person well or not. We may
mourn for public figures we respect and admire, for example,
even though we=ve
never met them personally.
Grief is what we feel only when a loved one dies.
Grief is a normal response to the experience of loss of any
kind, including unusual and secondary losses. Such grief often
goes unrecognized and unacknowledged. (Examples include
disenfranchised losses such as loss of a cherished pet, and
losses stemming from major life transitions such as graduation,
moving, marriage or divorce, job loss, incarceration,
disability, or alteration in health status.)
Grief is an emotional response to loss.
In fact, grief can affect us in every dimension of our
being: physically, emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally,
socially and spiritually.
Grief and mourning are one and the same.
Grief is an individual=s
private, inner response to a loss. Mourning is the outward
expression of grief, the social response that is openly shared
with others. Everyone grieves, but not everyone mourns.
Grief occurs in orderly, predictable stages.
Mourning is highly individualized, according to a person=s
unique personality and life experiences, as well as the nature
of the relationship with the deceased, how the death happened,
the support system available to the mourner, the individual=s
past experiences with loss, and the person=s
religious and cultural background.
Tears are a sign of weakness.
In fact, crying at the death of a close loved one is a normal
human response that is universal and occurs across cultures
throughout the entire world. Studies show that tears contain
toxic chemicals created by the stress response, and crying is a
natural and healthy way to release those toxins and the tension
associated with them.
Medication is useful in relieving the pain, anxiety and
depression associated with grief.
Grief is not an illness to be cured, and the emotions attached
to it are normal. While medication may be indicated in some
cases, facing grief, moving toward the pain, and openly
expressing what is felt on the inside is what leads eventually
to healing. Avoidance, chemical or otherwise, causes grief to
resurface in unexpected ways. The symptoms of grief also serve
as signals to the rest of us that the mourner is in need of our
compassion, patience and understanding.
Most people eventually recover from grief and return to normal.
Grief is not an illness from which a person recovers; rather, it
is a gradual process of transformation. When a loved one dies,
a part of the mourner dies, too. Every aspect of life is
different and forever changed, and a
must be found, as the person learns to integrate the loss and
live in a whole new world without the physical presence of the
one who has died. In time and over time, the mourner learns to
accommodate the loss and is forever changed by it
and often heals and grows from it to live a deeper, more
Time heals all wounds, and eventually grief comes to an end.
Grief is an adaptive response that is not bound by time. It
never really ends; we don=t
grief. It is something we learn to live with over time, as we
gradually adjust to the physical absence of the one who has
died. Grief softens and erupts less frequently as time goes on,
but it can revisit us at any time, and in varying intensity,
whenever we are reminded of the loss.
Those who mourn openly are weak in their faith.
Grief often brings on a crisis in faith, because a significant
loss challenges all of a person=s
basic beliefs about the nature and fairness of the universe, the
existence of a higher power, or even the very nature of God. We
cannot compete with this process; we can only wait with
unconditional love, patience and compassion as the person finds
his own way and mourns in the way that is best for him.
The first year of grief is the hardest, and the time when
support is most needed.
For some, the second year is even harder than the first, because
the protective barrier of numbness has disappeared and by now,
secondary losses are more apparent. The reality is that the
mourner needs our ongoing compassion and support.
The goal of grief is to let go of the one who died and move on
The bonds of love are never severed by death, and if cherished
memories and legacies are intentionally tended and nourished, it
is normal and healthy that a close relationship with the
deceased will continue and endure throughout a person=s