What You Need to Know About the Grief Process!

Losing a loved one is never easy. After a death, you may experience many different feelings and find yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually fatigued.

The “grief process” has been coined in our society to encourage you to move on, get over it, and accept this life change – sometimes before you are ready. This process, as defined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, is a useful tool and resource, but the problem lies in the misunderstanding of the process itself. Typically, you may sway from one stage to another, back and forth, until the final phase – acceptance- is reached. Our society expects you to reach the final stage of acceptance in a timely manner and show the results of your progress.

You may feel trapped by these false time limits and become embarrassed to show your grief. As time passes from the day of your loved one's death, you may ask yourself, “Why am I not over this yet? It has been ___ years. Why am I not accepting this? When will this process be over?” The answers are simple, yet hard to see when enveloped in grief and guided by a misunderstood process.

Answers to Some Tough Questions

Why am I not over this yet? Because you have lost someone you love and care about. This may be something you will never be “over.” As long as you are continuing to make progress and feel a slight, positive difference from the day your loved one died, you are doing fine. If not, please make an appointment with a professional counselor who specializes in grief and loss.

Why am I not accepting this? You probably have – just not in the way you were expecting. The acceptance phase, where you expect to be “over it,” creates a false ending to the pain and hurt. Instead, give yourself permission to focus on what you are experiencing right now. Explore your feelings and emotions. Find a professional counselor who specializes in grief and loss and talk about your grief in a safe place. Healing has no time limit. Don't pressure yourself to accept your loss. Release your desire to “get to the end” and begin a slow integration into the present moment. Remember to love yourself and honor your feelings as they happen.

When will this process be over? A process is defined as a systematic series of actions directed to some end. To counselors and psychologists, the grief process allows them to easily diagnose the state you are into assure there is some type of movement with your feelings and emotions. It also allows you to see that you are experiencing many emotions and feeling and can confirm that you are on the right path. However, reaching the “end” is a false belief. What is real is that you have lost someone you love. You now need a way to figure out how to continue living this life without them in it. That is all. Pure and simple. The grief process many guide you. It may help you proceed to a peaceful place again, but it is not the only way to grieve. Grieving is personal and different for everyone, so have the courage to make it your own. *

How Can I Help a Friend Who is Grieving?

These guidelines may uplift the spirit, stimulate healing, and lead to the validation of the loss, which for many people, never happens.

Always remember there are many levels to grief. Some may experience a quick and sudden journey and may not be quite as affected, while others may not even know where to begin the journey that is now in front of them. The circumstances surrounding the death may prompt how one responds. Was it sudden? Was it a long sickness? Are there criminal or legal issues involved?

Remember that the grief process is only a tool – and there truly is not right or wrong way to grieve. Asking your friend to talk about their loved one with you is probably one of the best things you can do. Ask questions like, “What do you miss the most about them? What makes you feel better? Do you want me to go to the cemetery with you?”

Try not to refer to the grief process when someone is grieving. Instead, ask your friend “Where are you on your journey of grief? Can I help in any way?” Don't be afraid to hear their answers and ask questions when you don't understand. If you have concerns about their mental well-being, please contact their family members or health care practitioner.

Don't question timelines. Instead, encourage your friend to stay on a path that is comfortable and healthy for them. Keep offering support and empathy, even if it has been years since the death. Remember, there are no rules to grieving.

Acknowledge their loved one's birthday, the anniversary of the loved one's death, and any other special day. On such an occasion, present your friend a gift that says you are here to listen and that you have accepted their journey of grief – no matter how they choose to do it. Send a card, make a phone call, or schedule a visit and let them know they are safe with you to share their feelings and thoughts. Tears are powerful emotional eruptions and are great for cleansing the soul...especially when in the company of a good friend. And, most importantly, show your friend on many occasions that you do not want them to grieve alone!

* * Note: Luna's Light LLC does not diagnose, prescribe, treat or heal any condition. All information given is purely suggestion and is followed at your own discretion and decision. We encourage professional psychological counseling for anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one.