Far from being a sign of weakness, grieving is a healthy and naturally healing process. This National Grief Awareness Day, August 30, 2022, Balanced You and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) are raising awareness around the many ways individuals cope with loss and sharing resources to help when you or a loved one needs support.
While certain emotional responses are common, each person’s grief is also individual, and may be experienced differently. Grief, with its many ups and downs, may last longer than most people expect or realize. The best way to deal with a loss is to recognize it, face and accept your feelings and reactions, and get support during the grieving process. Below we will share how to understand grief, grow through grief, and help others with their grief. Now more than ever it’s important to connect with each other and offer support when needed.
- Grief is the normal human response to loss. You are healing; you aren’t losing your mind.
- Grief is not linear. Don’t expect yourself to move through each stage of grief in a direct path.
- Grief must be expressed. Accept and let your feelings out.
- Grief needs to be shared. Yes, you need other people.
- Each of us grieves in our own way. Chances are you’ll do it differently than others.
- Each of us grieves in our own time. Be patient with yourself.
- Grief affects the five major dimensions of life: physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual.
- In grief, we move from surviving, to healing, to growing.
Growing Through Grief
- Physically – Pay attention to your physical needs: try to move your body regularly (stretching, walking. whatever feels good to you), drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, breathe deeply, use relaxation skills, cut back on commitments. Be especially mindful of your use of sugar, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol: notice if your use increases.
- Mentally – Take time to revisit comforting or meaningful books, music, or podcasts, make lists (be kind to your memory!), notice self-criticism, be gentle with your expectations of yourself, find moments of awe and beauty, learn about the grief process, and to the extent possible alternate engagement with and taking breaks from your grief.
- Emotionally – find a confidant you can trust, let yourself be sad and cry, express your feelings through art or music, tell your story repeatedly, find times away from your pain, engage in grief counseling.
- Socially – reach out to friends and family, accept help, push yourself to ask for help, be flexible and leave yourself alternatives when attending social events, join a support group, help others, say yes to invitations (even when you don’t feel like it) but also feel free to sometimes say no, risk caring again.
- Spiritually – reassess your values and priorities, take time alone, experience the beauty of nature, practice meditation or prayer if it speaks to you, connect with your spiritual community if you have one.
Helping Others with Grief
- Be available: Call, send a card, stop by to talk, share a meal or activity.
- Communicate: Initiate conversation, listen, be willing to talk about the loss.
- Allow expression of feelings: Listening is more powerful than advice-giving.
- Avoid making judgments: Understand and accept differences in grieving and coping.
- Be patient: Expect ups and downs, not a convenient time schedule.
- Be sensitive: Remember times and events that may be especially hard for the grieving person.
- Encourage physical, emotional, and social self-care. Also encourage openness to the support of others and professional help, if appropriate.
- Accept your own limitations. Your support is important, but you cannot take away another’s pain.
For support in handling difficult reactions related to grief, call King County EAP 206-263-8733 or HRDEAP@kingcounty.gov.
EAP offers grief groups if a King County employee passes away and the work group wants space to process.