What is Grief?
Mayo Clinic defines grief as, ‘The natural reaction to loss. Grief is both a universal and personal experience. Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss.’ Life can feel overwhelming and complex when supporting a loved one who is grieving. Currently, people are experiencing grief at an alarming rate due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, individuals can experience grief at any time for any variety of reasons. Below are common examples of loss that can result in grief:
Death of a partner, family member, or friend
Serious illness diagnosis
The ending of a significant relationship
Loss of physical ability
How Long Does Grief Last?
How one grieves with such life-changing events varies from person to person. The American Psychological Association reports ‘…some people may struggle with grief for longer periods of time and feel unable to carry out daily activities. Individuals with severe grief or complicated grief could benefit from the help of a psychologist or another licensed mental health professional with a specialization in grief.’ For others, again depending on the nature of the loss, grief can feel like a more manageable or contained experience.
How Can I Support My Loved One Struggling With Grief?
Here is a list of suggestions to help you support your loved one’s path through grief:
Make time to actively listen
Suggest seeking professional mental health support
Help structure day to day tasks
Assist with errands beyond their emotional and physical capacity
Offer to make a meal
Avoid telling them how they “should” feel or what they “should” do
Remind them of the strengths you see in them
Knowing exactly what to say to a grieving person can be difficult. Instead of seeking out a solution or directing timelines for progress, consider providing a supportive ear. Sometimes sitting together in silence can be the best kind of support. Most importantly, make sure you are also focusing on your own self-care. In order to help others, you first have to prioritize your own mental and physical wellbeing.
Written by: A. Shroeder
If you or someone you love is in need of mental health treatment, The Mental Health Collective, located in Orange County, California, is here to help.