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What is Grief?

Published: February 27, 2024

Grief is the collection of feelings which you experience after a loss. These feelings can be sadness, crying, loss of appetite, insomnia, restlessness, trouble focusing on things and more. Grief is the normal process we all go through as we move through the mourning and grief process. 

There is not a definite progression or timeline. We all grieve differently and in our own way. What is important is to allow yourself time. Time to grieve, time to mourn the loss, time to take in all that you have gone through physically, emotionally and mentally.

How long does grief last? There is not a ‘time limit’ to grief. So may only grieve for a few months and for others, it may last a couple of years. For those whose grief seems unending, the answer may be to speak with a professional counselor.

"I feel guilty when I laugh or smile". Grief has hills and mountains, valleys and peaks. There will be days when you feel down and blue but there will also be days when you feel a little better, like you can breathe a little bit deeper, maybe feel a little bit lighter.

"My friend has suffered a loss and I’m not sure what to say". This is something that we all will face at some time in our life. What do we say? How do we react? We don’t necessarily need to say anything. For those who have suffered a loss, it’s important to just be there for them. I had a friend who made the decision not to speak to me at all when I suffered a terrible loss. I would have rather her just come and hold my hand. That closeness and connection means you care.

"My friends want me to date again but I feel like I’m cheating on my spouse". This a perfectly honest reaction to have. Back many years ago, the thought was a one year waiting period before dating or remarrying. I personally have known those who have remarried within 6 months. This in no way shows disrespect to the deceased spouse. It is a wonderful thing to be able to find a special someone again. There is no timeline – it’s what feels right for you.

Here are some things you can do and think about when the unthinkable happens. Be proactive…

Answer and field phone calls.

 Get clothing ready for the family for the wake and funeral.

Offer to babysit children.

Offer to keep out of town guests.

Keep up with food dishes – who brought what.

Take the family car and have it cleaned.

Mow the yard.

Bring over stamps and thank you cards/envelopes. Offer and then help address the envelopes.

Provide paper products to keep dirty dishes to a minimum.

Keep a memory book of those who called, came by to visit, sent emails or text messages. When the family feels ready, visit, sit down and go over those memories.

Don’t lose contact with those who have lost a loved one. The first year is a very critical one and it’s too easy for those who are grieving to fall through the cracks and be forgotten. Don't let those grieving isolate themselves. 

And most of all, listen. My mom used to say ‘God gave us two eyes, two ears and one mouth.  That’s so we can see and hear twice as much as we talk. Be willing to sit and be quiet if that’s what is needed. Be willing to listen if they are ready to talk. They will let you know what they need if you will watch and listen.

Diane Burch

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