What is Grieving? What you should and should not say to someone who is grieving!

What is Grieving? What you should and should not say to someone who is grieving!grieving

Grief is not something you “get over”. When you love someone, your love does not diminish when they die and their memory lives on with you even if they are physically no longer here.  A lot of people say grief is like a journey and although a journey that never ends, there are things to do to get better, and there are things you can do to smooth over the rough and rocky places along the way. Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life’s biggest challenges. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming.

With grief you may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to significant loss. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can ease your sadness and help you come to terms with your loss, find new meaning, and move on with your life.

What is Grief?                                                                                                                                      

Grief is a natural response to loss. Grief is the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more profound and significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. We often associate grieving with the death of a loved one which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief; however, any loss can cause grief. Below is a list of things which can cause grief:

Divorce or relationship breakup             Loss of Health

Losing a job                                                  Loss of financial stability

A miscarriage                                               Retirement

Death of a pet                                               A loved one’s serious illness

Loss of friendship                                       Loss of safety after a trauma

Selling the family home                             Loss of a cherished dream

Even subtle losses in life can trigger a sense of grief. You may grieve after moving away from home, graduating from college, or changing jobs. Whatever your loss, it’s personal to you, there is no need to feel ashamed about how you feel. There is a myth that it’s only appropriate to grieve for certain things. If the person, animal, relationship, or situation was significant to you, it’s normal to grieve the loss you’re experiencing.

While experiencing loss is an inevitable part of life, there are ways to help cope with the pain, come to terms with your grief, and eventually, find a way to pick up the pieces and move on with your life.

  • Acknowledge your pain.
  • Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
  • Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
  • Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you.
  • Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
  • Recognize the difference between grief and depression.

Going through grief is a highly individual experience and there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. How one may grieve depends on many factors, including personality and coping style, life experience, faith, and how personal and significant the loss was. Grieving takes time and there is no timetable for grieving.   Effective healing happens gradually, it should not be forced or hurried.  People who are grieving needs patience.

In 1969, Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what has become known as the “Five Stages of Grief.” Kübler-Ross developed these stages of grief while studying the feelings of patients facing a terminal illness. Over the years others have generalized them to other types of negative life changes and losses, such as the death of a loved one or a break-up.

The five stages of grief:

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may be helpful to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time; however, not everyone who grieves goes through all of these stages. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. And if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in.

Consoling a friend or loved one who is in the midst of grieving over the loss of their loved one can be very awkward for most of us. What we should say or shouldn’t say can be perplexing. Most people are caring and would want to offer sentiments that would help the grieving feel better.  Below are lists of words and phrases:  some that are appropriate to say and some that are not appropriate to say to someone who is grieving a death.

The Best Things to Say to Someone in Grief

1.  I am so sorry for your loss.
2. I wish I had the right words, just know I care.
3. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in any way I can.
4. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.
5. My favorite memory of your loved one is…
6. I am always just a phone call away
7. Give a hug instead of saying something
8. We all need help at times like this, I am here for you
9. I am usually up early or late, if you need anything
10. Saying nothing, just be with the person

The Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief

1.At least she lived a long life, many people die young
2. He is in a better place
3. She brought this on herself
4. There is a reason for everything
5. Aren’t you over him yet, he has been dead for a while now
6. You can have another child still
7. She was such a good person God wanted her to be with him
8. I know how you feel
9. She did what she came here to do and it was her time to go
10. Be strong

If you are in the midst of grieving and find the pain and loss unbearable, a Professional Counselor can help you as you bear your loss and go through your journey, giving you guidance and encouragement along the way as you go through your feelings and emotions as you grieve.

Jim Katsoudas

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