How is grief different from loss? Grief is the emotion that comes from loss. Simply put, grief is deep sorrow. Death creates the loss, and loss creates the sorrow. In many ways, our culture denies the full expression of death, loss and grief. Denying grief during a loss is like putting a paper bag over fireworks to prevent the fire. It will never work. Avoiding grief is like playing whack-a-mole. Every time you try and push it down, it pops up in a different location.
There needs to be a massive overhaul for how we do death & dying in our culture. But first we need to normalize grief. Putting words to our feelings and speaking them is essential. Shame should no longer have a seat at the table of grief. Grief is hard enough. Let it become normal for us to cry openly. Let it be acceptable to feel our emotions wherever we happen to be. When grief sneaks up on us, as it always does, let us be able to acknowledge it, move through it, and carry on after it, without batting an eye. This is no easy feat given many of us were raised denying our feelings. This isn’t a finger pointing exercise, rather a generational unlearning. While many families and cultures have extensive ritual and meaning around death, loss and grief, in others it was commonplace to be private. We now know that these cultural norms have far reaching negative consequences such as, addiction, illness, and mental health issues.
One way to normalize grief is to speak about it. This may sound scary, but it is easier than it seems & just requires practise. For example, in my own life if I am grieving & I am going to be around people, I will prepare them ahead of time, in case I cry in their presence. I have found that as long as people are aware of what’s happening, they are usually very empathetic. If you aren’t able to prepare them , try and explain what is happening, trusting you too will be met with empathy. If you are not, it just affirms my mission, that we have more work to do in making people comfortable to grieve openly. This is where I come in.
Introducing the concepts of comfort and the freedom to talk openly about grief and loss in our families is another important step for ourselves and for the next generation. Children can be taught that sharing their feelings is safe & they will be heard. Parents can be educated & prepared for these conversations. These lessons start with parents and families and will then flow out into our communities. Caring for one another needs to become a core value again. We have become separated because of our discomfort around expressing grief, which in turn breeds isolation. We can remove the isolation by promoting the open expression of grief, both at home and in our community and heal our communities & families one loss at a time.
Unsure where to start? I can help you begin.
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