National Grief Awareness Week takes place from the 2nd-8th December. The campaign is set up to raise awareness of all aspects of grief and loss, to normalize the concept of grief, and to better equip those who are experiencing grief or those who have not yet experienced this emotion.
Grief is the most common and enduring emotion of the human condition and at some point, in our lives, we will all experience grief. Learning about grief is important so we can allow ourselves to grieve healthily, at times the concept of grieving seems scary, and we almost feel ‘guilty’ or ‘weak’ for wanting to grieve, however, this is a very natural and expected response to any form of loss, whether that is a partner, family member, friend or even a pet. When losing a loved one we can experience a range of different emotions, from shock and numbness, pain, anger, guilt and even depression. Learning how to respond to or manage this can be very tough.
How to help yourself
Getting back to looking after yourself after a bereavement is difficult, however, it’s the healthiest way to allow grieving and prepares for healing, here are some simple steps that can be taken:
- Sleeping and eating: Taking care of your sleep and sticking to a sleep routine. Having regular meals daily, as the structure is healthy for the mind and body.
- Exercise: Use exercise as a relaxation method, whether that is running, cycling, walking or any form of exercise you prefer.
- Talking to others: Talking to others is an important step, whether that is our family, friend, therapist, or a trustable person about how you are feeling.
- Spirituality: If you are a person of spirituality or faith, turning to your beliefs and personal practices can support you through this time.
When will I feel better?
The truth is that we must allow ourselves to grieve properly, it’s completely normal to feel the emotions we are feeling and dismissing these emotions will never be a healthy response or a method which will allow us to process our loss. The truth is that healing comes slowly, but it will come. It’s important to also remember that by healing we are not replacing the person who has died, nothing can replace them. But gradually most people find they can continue with life and start to feel happy at times while remembering those who have died.
How to help someone who is grieving
It’s always difficult to know what to say or how to react when someone close to us is grieving, we second guess ourselves and at times feel we may say or do the wrong thing especially if we have not experienced a similar loss.
It’s not always about saying the perfect words but rather showing support, empathy, and comfort through nonverbal actions, by showing up and making the bereaved realize they are not alone through this process. Lending an ear and actively listening, the bereaved may want to speak about their loss as this can be very comforting and help with healing. You can’t take away their pain, but you can be there to support them through the process. Not to be afraid to ask if they require any practical support, sometimes the bereaved may need a helping hand with preparations for the funeral.