Grief shows up in many ways throughout our lives.
When it comes to dealing with experiences like the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or a rupture in close relationships, families often want to support each other but are unsure how.
Many want to show care and develop deeper connections, but feel awkward or uncomfortable around negative emotions. Or maybe, when you try to help, you feel powerless or even afraid of making things worse.
Today I’m going to talk with you about 3 things families should know about grief.
Grief Doesn’t Have a Beginning or End
First, grief does not have a set beginning or end. It may last longer than we anticipate, and show up in unexpected ways. Many people experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance as part of their grief journey. But these things do not happen in a certain order, and cannot be rushed.
Like gum stuck on the bottom of your shoe, grief can be sticky. You may think you have moved on from something, only to find the sense of loss there again, sticking as you walk. This is normal. And it does not mean you are moving backwards! Healing happens layer by layer.
Grief Looks Different For Everyone
Second, grief looks different for everyone. As family members process loss, they may have unique reactions and needs– but there is not one right way to grieve. Some people may have a lot of tears while others feel numb.
One person may need to sit in silence, while another has many words to share. Others may find it beneficial to express painful emotions through creative arts. In any case, it is important to make room in your family for differences in each person’s experience of grief.
Remember What Really Matters
Lastly, remember what really matters when a loved one is hurting is your presence—not fixing or distracting, but instead being with the other person in their pain.
John Bowlby called this kind of consistent, responsive presence a “secure base.”
Our job is not to have perfect words or to make the grief go away. Instead, when we acknowledge the tension of our discomfort and tune in to our loved ones’ experiences with openness, we may become a “secure base” where they can process difficult experiences.
It is presence, rather than nice words or solutions, that fosters healing and resiliency.
If you or your family are experiencing grief and unsure of how to support each other, schedule an appointment today. Together, we can explore what it looks like to honor loss and move toward healing.
Women, Couples, & Families
I specialize in working with women, couples, and families to process difficult experiences and move towards deeper connection with themselves and their loved ones.
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Cedar Tree's Mission:
There are a lot of broken families who struggle to do life well together.
That’s why we help families create an environment where deeper connection & healing can happen.