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About grieving and healing

Grief is our natural and normal response to loss

It is "human" to grieve. From childhood on, we grieve over and over. Grief is triggered whenever we experience significant loss. The loss of a pet, a job, a relationship, a marriage, a community (e.g., moving) can and do cause us to grieve. Part of our being human is that we form relationships and attachments. When they come to an end, we grieve. It's what we do. In part, it is because we can love that we also can grieve.

Grief is individual

The way you grieve will be your own way. How a death affects us depends on many variables: our age, our relationship to the person, our support, our personality, our beliefs, our family background, the nature of the death, whether we've had other recent losses or have unresolved past losses, etc. Individuals within the same family can have significantly different ways of grieving the death of a family member. We need to respect those differences and not presume to know that we understand how another is feeling.

Grief can affect the whole person

Grief can affect our body, emotions, mind and spirit. Having stomach troubles and not being able to sleep (or only wanting to sleep) are among many of the physical reactions we may have. Disbelief... sorrow... guilt... relief... anger... are but a few of the emotions we may experience. Finding it difficult to concentrate or finish tasks, feeling down, lacking energy and motivation and questioning our faith are but some of the ways our minds and spirits may be affected. Remember, it is normal not to feel normal.

Grief is repetitive

The reality of our loss and the significance of living without the person who has died usually takes some time to "sink in". We don't just get better with each passing day.

Grieving is a journey with ups and downs, good days and bad days. There are "triggers" that produce resurgences of the grief which we though were over. Knowing that grieving is repetitive can help us be more patient with ourselves as we heal. Having a friend who knows this can be a great help also.

Allowing grieving, allows healing

We do not heal when we suppress our grief and try (or pretend) to be strong. It's true that we can't, nor should we, grieve full time. There may be times when we need people to be with us and activities to do in order to get respite from our grieving. But activities or friends do not, by themselves, heal us. Not even time by itself heals us.

Time only permits healing. It is we who heal, and mostly that healing comes from within. The path that leads to our healing runs through, not around, our grieving.

Ken Westereng (B.A., M. Div.)