Grief: 10 Things to Keep in Mind

When you are grieving, it helps to know what to expect. Here are 10 thoughts to keep in mind when understanding your grief

Senior comforts friend

1. Grief affects your entire life.

When someone close to you dies, the feelings of loss and grief can be overwhelming.

You may find yourself wondering if anything will ever be the same again.

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It’s important to remember that the death of someone close to you is a profound and life-transforming event. 

Allow yourself to be open to seeing grief as a journey –a personal pathway between how things were and how they will be.

2. Grief is a natural process.

We feel sad when someone close to us dies because we feel we have lost a deep connection with someone who was a significant part of our world.

It may be comforting to think of grief as a consequence of living and loving. Grieving is a normal part of life and a natural response to the loss of a deeply meaningful relationship.

senior sitting on a park bench watching swans

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Grief is a natural and normal response to loss.

Man sitting and reflecting in a city

3. Everyone grieves differently.

After the death of someone you are close to, some may try to find comfort in openly expressing their sadness, while others may choose to try to control their emotions.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. How you deal with your grief is influenced by your personality, your previous experience with loss, and the unique relationship that you had with the person who died.

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Sometimes other people try and rush you through your grief, but remember: there is no “normal” schedule for the way we grieve.

Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. 

4. Your social connections may change.

When you are grieving, you may especially want emotional support from others in your social circle.

However, sometimes people are uncomfortable with grief because of their own experiences and feelings about death. You may be disappointed to discover that some of your friends are not capable of providing the understanding and support that you want and expect from them.

Remember that all of the relationships in your life will be altered in some way after a major loss. Some will grow stronger, while others may fall away. During the grieving process, it’s normal for you to look at, change, or sometimes end certain relationships.

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Grieving might present an opportunity to seek out new connections. You may find that the company of other grieving people is particularly comforting. 

You may need to deliberately distance yourself from some relationships if you find that they can’t provide you with the support you need at the moment.

5. Children grieve too.

Understand that grieving a death may be a time of heightened emotions and low energy for you and your family.  Children can be frightened by what they don’t understand, but they are also remarkably intuitive and sensitive to the moods and behaviour of the adults around them.

When a family member dies, children will look to the important adults in their lives for guidance on how to grieve. They may not talk about their thoughts and feelings of loss unless you do.

Child holding white paper dove

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Keep it simple. You can help children work through their feelings by engaging them in straightforward, heartfelt conversations about death and grief.

Close up of couple holding hands

6. Grief can change you.

Grieving can bring a level of intense emotions that you may never have experienced before. 

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. How you deal with your grief is influenced by your personality, your previous experience with loss, and the unique relationship that you had with the person who died.

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Understand that this is part of being human, and try to be kind to yourself.  Remember, you are directing most of your energy and attention towards adjusting to your loss, so responses like fatigue, forgetfulness, and irritability are a normal result.

7. The grieving process is unpredictable.

You may be part-way through the day and managing your grief relatively well. Then, suddenly and without warning, you are overwhelmed with sadness that washes over you like a wave.

The path of grief is never predictable. Your emotions can fluctuate day to day, hour to hour, or even minute to minute.

Close-up of young man thinking

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It's important to keep in mind that grief is a journey full of ups and downs. 

As you pass through phases of your grieving, try to recognize that there will be bad days and choose to value the good days as breaks or rests along the pathway.

8. Grieving has no timeline.

You may find that your grief journey is taking longer than you expected. Maybe you’re frustrated by your progress and thinking you ought to be better than you are by now - whenever “now” is. Perhaps you’re also feeling pressure from the people around you to heal quickly and be back to being who you were before.

It’s certain that the loss of someone you are close to will continue to be part of your life. While the intensity of your sadness may recede with time, you will always experience moments when you think about, miss, and grieve for the person who died.

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Despite what you may hear about "getting over it" or "the first year," there are no set timelines for grief.  Quite simply, it takes as long as it takes. 

Woman exercising on sports mat at home

9. Self-care is all-important.

There are things that you can do to help yourself at this challenging time.

Seek out good and reliable information to help you understand your responses and journey.

Be gentle and patient with yourself. 

Do what you can to keep some normal routine for physical health and social contact. 

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Support may come from a variety of sources: family, friends, bereavement groups, chat rooms, religious communities, and others. If you are concerned about yourself and your grief, seek professional help.

10. Grief can be a spiritual journey of healing

The death of someone significant in your life may raise questions of meaning and purpose for you and prompt spiritual reflection. Profound change in life also gives an opportunity for growth and learning.

Spiritual and/or religious beliefs and practices may be a source of strength, comfort and support when facing painful, difficult and life changing experiences. Being a part of a community of like-minded people can help you feel less isolated and alone.

Joyful woman on mountaintop

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Make efforts to re-connect with the things that give you comfort, and be open to discovering new ways to evolve in spirit and soul.

Symbolic actions - such as planting a tree in memory of the deceased person, or ritual actions such as lighting a candle to commemorate a special date can help us through difficult times. Symbolic actions and rituals engage us from the heart space rather than the brain, which can be very healing.

Understanding Your Grief Guide - 10 Things to Keep in Mind

Download and print the guide on understanding your grief.

Tips to help you through the grieving process. 

Document on understanding your grief 10 things to keep in mind

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