A friend in her early 30s grieved the loss of both her mother and father who died just one year apart. My friend chose outlets for her grief that helped her process and mourn the deaths of her parents. After a year had passed, her older sister confided that she was concerned in how my friend was grieving.
Is there a standard in how we should grieve? It is not surprising to learn that everyone grieves differently, even when a loss is shared.
Loss is a personal experience and grief is our response to it. Mourning is our reaction to grief, and we mourn for what we have lost and what will no longer be. Each of us has a unique perspective based on our experience, personality, interests, and traits. All of these play a factor in how we communicate, live our lives, and relate to others. No two relationships are alike, so it makes sense that no two griefs should be alike either.
I have found grief to be a solitary experience. Friends and loved ones can be empathetic to our loss, but when it comes to mourning, we do it ourselves. There are healthy ways to mourn and facilitate healing. Here are 10 that helped my friend:
1. It can be hard to rustle up the energy to get out of bed, but it is important to get dressed and get out of the house.
2. Keep your sneakers nearby and put them on and go for a walk. Take in your surroundings and breathe.
3. Make time to acknowledge and vent your feelings.
4. You’re hurting, so be kind to yourself. Take steps to move forward, but at your own pace.
5. Acknowledge what you can and can’t do. Take on only what you can handle.
6. Make a point to nourish yourself with healthy meals and time to sleep.
7. Participate in some kind of physical activity. Yoga can be healing when grieving a loss.
8. Talk to friends and loved ones who are empathetic and good listeners. It helps to articulate your feelings and share stories of your loved one.
9. Read books on grief to understand the bereavement process and to appreciate that you are not alone; everyone who loses a loved one goes through this process.
10. If you feel yourself getting stuck, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a professional. A therapist or grief counselor can help you move forward.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How To Say It When You Don't Know What To Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available as e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.