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  • Writer's pictureTomeki Davis

Day 27 - Mental Health Awareness Month (Grief)

memorial day(remembarance and grief)


Today is Memorial Day here in the U.S. and it is also the 27th day of Mental Health Awareness Month. For some, this day mainly represents the last day of a wonderful 3-day weekend, an extra day by the pool with some delicious food on the grill, and a shortened work week. For others, especially those who have served in the United States Armed Forces or who have lost loved ones who died while serving to protect this country, today means so much more. As we pause today in remembrance of those men and women who gave it all, I want to focus on grief.

 

Grief. The word alone (unless spoken by a balding kid with a pet beagle named Charlie) tends to make people uncomfortable. Bring up the topic of grief in a social setting and you will surely cause the crowd to scatter. Overwhelmingly, our society is uncomfortable with topics around grief and loss. It can be difficult to comfort someone who is experiencing grief because we often struggle to find the right words to say. We want to do something to make the grieving person feel better, to be of help to them in some way or another.  But what can you really do for someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one?

 

Although the question may seem tricky, the answer is not. In the grand scheme of things, it’s quite simple. Sometimes, all you need to do is be. Just be there for them. Assuring them that they are not alone can go a long way. Let them know that they can talk to you if they feel like talking or offer to just sit in silence with them. Offer food and hydration because grieving individuals sometimes need reminders to take care of their physical needs.  There are no magic words that can make them feel better so sometimes no words are needed. Your presence is powerful so just be.

 

Also, encourage them to feel however they need to feel. With grief comes states of confusion, anger, bargaining with a Higher Power or the Universe for things to be different, and many other emotions. When working with individuals who have experienced a loss, we often discuss the Stages of Grief at some point. I always explain the stages, answer any questions the person may have about them and how they show up in our lives, and then I urge them to remember two key points:


(1)  Grief is not linear. In order, the 5 stages are usually listed as denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. However, this does not mean you will experience them in order or that you will only go through each stage only once.


(2) Grief is often illogical. Do not try to apply logic to what you should or should not be feeling and do not try to suppress your emotions. Cry when you need to cry. Scream at the top of your lungs if you feel the need to do so. I have found that if you try to control your emotional response to your loss, grief will find a way to get those emotions out eventually and it won’t be pretty.

 

Sending love and positive energy to all of you on this Memorial Day.


Mental Health Awareness Month

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