When We Lose Someone We Love....

By: Shelby Russo
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

When we lose someone we love, we are overcome with intense, complex emotions that we have difficulty expressing with words. The word “grief” has been used throughout time to define the emotional response when coping with the loss of a loved one. Some things that can be associated with grief include sadness, guilt, anger, physical pain, shock or fear.

We may experience common patterns and responses when dealing with death, yet grief is something that is unique to everyone in that we all experience grief differently. Grief is often described as a journey without a map to guide us to our destination. There are different roads, hills (highs) and valley’s (lows) we may face while on our journey, but ultimately guide us to our destination: healing. Your experience with grief can be influenced by a variety of factors- your relationship with the deceased, the circumstances surrounding their death, your support system and even your religious customs or rituals.  Grief may occur in different forms or stages; there are no set rules or timeline when it comes to the grieving process and how we may act or feel. It is important to not hurry or rush the process, yet to embrace and acknowledge its difficulties and messiness.

Importance of Funerals

We hold ceremonies to celebrate accomplishments and important milestones or events in our lives. Funeral rites have served as a way to commemorate the life of our loved ones and have existed since the beginning of the human race and have evolved over time. Some may choose to follow the traditional funeral route which includes a viewing, funeral ceremony and burial. With the increase of cremation, people may choose not to view the deceased and may hold a memorial service and decide to keep their loved one in their home. With so many options for rites and dispositions, funerals hold a common purpose: people gather to share memories, honor, reflect, express their emotions, provide comfort and support to those who are grieving.  These rites are not only meant for honoring the deceased, but can provide a sense of closure or acceptance for the survivors. Studies have shown that participating in funeral ceremonies have helped those struggling with their grief has led them on the path to healing.

Religious and cultural beliefs/ rituals may also serve as a guide towards the healing process in that they provide us with solace and understanding surrounding life and death. We may choose a final disposition that aligns with these religious or cultural beliefs that guides our loved one to their final place of rest. Holding a ritualistic funeral service may also provide us with a community of continuous support and spiritual comfort in the days to come following the services.

Support Systems

Developing a healthy support system when navigating your journey through grief may feel like a difficult task. Accepting support and reaching out to others who are willing to listen and validate your thoughts and feelings may allow you to overcome some of the emotions you have been experiencing. Even at times you may not feel like talking, having those moments of peace and quiet while in the company of others may fill a void.

If someone you know is experiencing the loss of a loved one, it may be difficult at times to find the right things to say or do, however, do not let that prevent you from reaching out and letting them know that you are there. By understanding that the grieving process is different for everyone, it will allow you to become better equipped when helping them. Often times, we worry about what we say during times we should be the ones listening.  By being a listening ear and allowing the bereaved express their thoughts and feelings openly can provide a sense of comfort and relief. Offering extra support such as helping with funeral arrangements, household tasks, caregiving, running errands, or any sort of daily life activities may elevate some stress on the bereaved in the days to come.

It may also be worth considering professional help if your experiences with grieving become hindering for you to navigate through daily life activities or if you begin to develop unhealthy habits and ways to help you cope. Professional assistance may provide guidance and resources that family and friends may not be able to. Bereavement groups may also provide a different form of support by being able to connect with others and share experiences and methods of coping.

Healing

The loss of a loved one will always have an impact in our lives one way or another. Whether you are the one who is grieving or you’re helping someone navigate through their own experience with loss, allowing the time to grieve and express the feelings and emotions associated with the process will guide you to healing. Although grief is something we are often times groomed to ignore or avoid, it is important to understand grief is a journey that allows us to heal and transform ourselves so we may continue our lives the way our loved one would want.

 

PHOTO BY: Karim MANJRA

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