A New Paradigm for Grieving: The Universal Grieving Symbol Offers Expression of Grief

A Symbol for Grief Emerges

A symbol for grief did not exist until Michele and Kelly McBride created the Universal Grieving Symbol™ in the Fall of 2003 after losing their youngest sister, Shannon. The sisters discovered that a symbol existed for almost everything else in society, except for grieving the loss of a loved one. Through research and personal experience, they discovered that many people keep their hurt and pain inside after losing a loved one because it is just not something acceptable to freely talk about in society.

The sisters wanted this norm to change! They were inspired to create a symbol that could be worn in public to let others know they had experienced the death of a loved one. Sometimes, it took a lot of energy to hide their sadness especially at work or in public or on the days their grief was the strongest. The sisters thought if they could wear a universally identifiable symbol to let others know they were grieving, public interactions could be easier as they wouldn't have to pretend that "everything was o.k." Others would recognize the symbol on a shirt, hat, or jacket and offer support and gentleness without having to exchange words about the loss.

Inspired by the traditional symbolism of a wheat stalk blowing in the wind and the transformational nature of the butterfly and dragonfly, they created the Universal Grieving Symbol™ that is now recognized worldwide. It is an undefined and open symbol to encompass all theories and opinions on death, as well as all religious and cultural aspects. The Symbol represents the belief that everyone has the freedom to grieve in their own way. The sisters believe the Symbol acknowledges the powerful and life-changing experiences a death can bring to those missing their loved one. By allowing and supporting an individual to express their emotions surrounding their loss publicly or privately, a foundation is laid to begin a healthy and grounded approach to grieving.

Symbol for Sympathy: Universal Grieving Symbol Lapel Pin

The Symbol is not intended to extend grief or to amplify the hurt associated with the loss. In fact, it is the other way around. By publicly wearing the Universal Grieving Symbol™ pin, the wearer can unite with fellow mourners while validating their loss and also open doors of communication with others about their grief that were once silenced. This public display brings people together, lets them share stories and memories, and celebrates or honors milestones. The Universal Grieving Symbol™ pin encourages and offers hope to the griever for it says: I have loss someone I am missing today and it is o.k. to cry and feel my emotions and share this with others.

The Universal Grieving Symbol™ Pin can be worn at the darkest, most difficult time - like on a day when support is needed from friends or co-workers. It can also be worn to acknowledge the passage of time, like the anniversary of a loved one's death. Because the intention of wearing the pin takes on a personal, intimate relationship with the wearer, it can be worn everyday to honor the life of the person who has died. When given as a gift, it reminds the recipient that “Even on the darkest night, I am not alone.”