Grief Awareness Day and How to Deal with Grief in Healthy Ways
Grief is a normal part of the human experience, and as National Grief Awareness Day approaches, we think it’s important to talk about the different types of grief you can face – as well as tips for coping.
Grief Awareness Day is a national event that occurs every year on August 30. It was created in 2014 by Angie Cartwright, a public speaker, activist, and grief specialist who wanted to start a larger conversation about how grief manifests and how we can deal with it productively.
So, where to begin? Here’s what to know about the various ways that grief can present, plus valuable strategies for dealing with grief, or helping someone else through the grieving process.
The Different Types of Grief
Grief doesn’t only happen in response to death. On the contrary, there are many life experiences that can lead to grief and its associated symptoms, and there are a wide variety of ways that grief can manifest. For these reasons, learning about the types of grief can help acknowledge it. And that can be instrumental in getting the support that you need.
Some of the experiences that can lead to grief include:
- Personal loss – Death, breakups, family estrangements, etc.
- Loss of health – Disruptions to physical or mental well-being due to injury or illness.
- Financial loss – Changes to economic status or stability.
- Loss of worldview – Separating yourself from a belief or social system you once relied on.
- Loss of safety – A response to violence or another type of world-shaking trauma.
As for the experience of grief itself, that can and does vary from person to person. There is what is considered standard or “normal” grief, which exists on a spectrum of severity and may cause things like sadness, shock, anger, denial, and physical stress. There are also less commonly discussed types of grief, such as inhibited grief (repression of the grief response), collective grief (grief experienced by a community), and complicated grief (grief that doesn’t follow a “normal” pattern).
There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There are, however, things that anyone can do to start letting go of grief, regardless of what the trigger was or how the grief has manifested.
Positive Grieving Strategies
Dealing with grief starts with permitting yourself to feel how you’re feeling. From there, it’s about using coping skills to address those feelings and take action toward a more positive mindset.
Examples of coping skills that can help with letting go of grief include reframing your thoughts in a more positive light, working on accepting the loss you experienced, and using therapy, spirituality, or even humor to find relief.
Keep in mind that you do not have to tackle grief alone. Professional mental health support is available and can significantly impact the healing process.
How to Respond to Someone Grieving
You can’t erase someone else’s grief. But if you want to help someone who is grieving, there are a few things you can do:
- Check in and ask how they are feeling.
- Acknowledge the loss instead of being wary of bringing up the topic.
- Instead of asking, “do you need anything?”, offer direct help by asking if they would like you to babysit, drop off a meal, walk their dog, etc.
- Lend an open ear, listening without judgment and offering hope and support.
Coping with grief doesn’t always mean eliminating it. Instead, Grief Awareness Day reminds us that sometimes the best thing you can do is learn to live with grief in a healthy way – and that’s perfectly okay.
At Synergy Health Programs, we offer mental health and substance use services that can help individuals process grief and other issues. Please contact us to learn more and to discuss possible treatment plans.