On Grief and Grieving

Individual Therapy in Bethesda, MD

Most of us experience unforeseen challenges that may put into question our core beliefs. The experience of grief may be one of those. The passing of a loved one, regardless of age, of being sick for a long time, or a sudden death, may lead us to suffer and to ask questions that we may feel nobody can answer.

I think some people wish that the grief process could be quick and straight forward. However, what I have seen is that this process is sometimes circular; there may be days that someone may experience anger and sadness, while other days, some peace.

As with many processes that put us in a position of meaning-making, grief is singular, personal, as each person will go through it at their own pace. That though does not imply that it should be experienced in isolation. In fact, research shows that we can heal better, healthier, if we manage it together. Perhaps the experience of losing someone could be an opportunity to get closer to our loved ones, or even to others that were not quite close before.

Here are some examples that others have suggested as possible ideas that may make this process a little more bearable:

  1. Accept your feelings. Perhaps there is no right feeling to have, other than what you are experiencing. We may be angry at professionals that we consider should have done a better job; we may be angry at God, for taking away our loved one; we may be angry at ourselves. There is nothing wrong about having different feelings at a given time; perhaps the key is to recognize and express it, while being caring toward those around us.
  2. There is absolutely no clear answer to “how long it is going to take for this process to be over?” Each person will experience grief at their own pace; rushing it or denying it certainly will not take away the pain. There should not be shame about be grieving. It may have been 1 week or decades… only you know your own process of continuously make meaning of it.
  3. Create some rituals around memories of the loved one that has passed. Some people find that it is helpful to go through pictures, past family videos, or even some hobbies that they used to do together. Others, on the other hand, consider that this adds to the pain. Be aware that what may work today, may or may not be as helpful tomorrow. So again, listen to yourself, and to your needs.
  4. Find a new hobby and be open to a healthy transition in life. After time has passed of grief, many people look back and notice how their lives have changed since losing someone. So here is my challenge: if for even a tiny possibility, you could envision yourself some time down the road in a better position in life, where and how do you want to be?
  5. Grief together. Although each person might experience the loss of someone in a singular and unique way, try to get together, as a family, as a group of friends, and heal together. There may be moments of tears, but others of great laughs too.
  6. Finally, as I said before, try to identify what works for you. Although some people think it is helpful to have moments by themselves, I would recommend that you try your very best to not isolate yourself. If the pain is too heavy to tolerate, perhaps that is a time to ask for a professional help.

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