Grief (also called bereavement) is the experience of loss. Many people associate grief with the death of an important person or pet. However, people experience grief after any important loss that affects their life.
People experience grief in many ways—and experience many different thoughts or feelings during the journey. People may feel shocked, sad, angry, scared, or anxious. Some feel numb or have a hard time feeling emotions at all. At times, many people even feel relief or peace after a loss.
Feelings, thoughts, reactions, and challenges related to grief are very personal. Many people find that the intensity of their grief changes a lot over time. People work through grief in their own time and on their own path.
What can I do about it?
People express or talk about grief in different ways, but we all feel grief after a loss. In most cases, people navigate through grief with help from loved ones and other supporters and, in time, go back to their daily life.
- Connect with caring and supportive people.
- Give yourself enough time.
- Let yourself feel sadness, anger, or whatever you need to feel.
- Recognize that your life has changed.
- Reach out for help.
- Plan for situations or events that might be hard.
- Take care of your physical health.
- Offer support to other loved ones who are grieving.
- Work through difficult feelings like bitterness and blame.
One of the most important things you can do is to simply be there for your loved one. Grief can feel overwhelming, but support and understanding can make a huge difference.
Here are some tips for supporting a loved one:
- Understand that a loved one needs to follow their own journey in their own way and express their feelings in their own way.
- Ask your loved one what they need, and regularly remind them that you’re there for support if they aren’t ready to talk with others yet. Remember to offer practical help, too.
- Talk about the loss. It’s common to avoid the topic and focus on a loved one’s feelings instead, but many people find sharing thoughts, memories, and stories helpful or comforting.
- Remember that grief may be bigger than the loss.
- Include your loved one in social activities. Even if they often decline, it’s important to show that they are still an important member of your community.
- Help your loved one connect with support services if they experience a lot of difficulties.
- Take care of your own well-being and seek extra help for yourself if you need it.