At Open Hearth Studio, I hear a lot of worries and questions about bereavement and grief:
•“How do I know what’s normal?”
• “I think I’m doing fine, then suddenly it all comes back and I’m in despair.”
• “How long will it be until I feel like “myself” again?”
• “I never cried after he died. And I still can’t.”
• “Am I crying too much?”
• “I know I should be sad, but I’m just feeling relieved (or angry, or tired, or empty…) I’m afraid to tell anyone, because people will think I didn’t love her!”
The words grief, bereavement, and loss can mean so many different things for different people.
Sometimes, when you find yourself in the middle of grief, you might have a hard time finding people who understand your experience of it.
You may even feel judged for the way you are feeling, how you are acting, or what you are doing to manage your grief.
Over the years, grief and loss have been described in several ways.
One way that still influences how the general public views the process is Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ description of 5 Stages of Grief.
While she never intended for this to be interpreted as a rigid prescription for how one ought to grieve, it has unfortunately been taken that way by our society, which is uncomfortable with difficult feelings, and wants quick solutions!
So, yes, you may experience, at various times during your bereavement, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance, but then again, you might not…
An important point: in general, children and teens grieve very differently from adults, and there can also be a difference in general between how men and women grieve. That said, however, YOU will grieve in YOUR own way, regardless of your age or gender.
This doesn’t mean that your best support person will be exactly like you! It just highlights how helpful it is for those around you to be comfortable with how you grieve.
So, if everyone experiences grief and loss in their own unique way, how do you know if what you’re going through is a “normal” or “healthy” reaction to loss?
At Open Hearth Studio, I encourage you to look at it a little differently, and maybe to ask yourself some different questions about your grief:
• How much emotional support do I have? How much practical support do I have?
• Do I feel understood and accepted by those closest to me?
• Am I spending a lot of time worrying that I’m “doing it wrong” or am I “o.k.” with where I’m at, even if I don’t like the emotions I’m experiencing?
• Do I have physical symptoms such as exhaustion, anxiety, pain, or tension that have appeared or increased since my loss?
• What were the circumstances of my loss? Was trauma of any sort involved?
• Am I experiencing recurring or disturbing images, memories, or dreams of my loss?
• Does it feel like my grief is stopping me from doing the necessary activities of daily living?
• Does it feel like I’ve been grieving “forever” with no sign of any change? Do I feel “stuck”?
If your answers to any of these questions worry you, then you may be in need of some additional support as you grieve.
At Open Hearth Studio I can offer you:
• help understanding your own way of grieving, or how your friends or family members might be grieving the same loss in a different way
• an outlet for feelings that you may see as unacceptable or confusing
• extra emotional support beyond what friends or family can provide
• more time to grieve, when your support system feels you should be “over it”
• help getting through the “stuck” feelings
• an opportunity to put your loss into perspective within the story of your life
• help for children or teens who are grieving