Can we take a moment to talk about grief?
Written by Madeline Vann, NCC, M.Ed. at White Cloud Therapeutic Services
Can we take a moment to talk about grief? I think we can all agree 2020 has been a difficult year, to put it mildly. And before we finally get out of this year, we have our holiday season to both look forward to, and endure.
Amidst all the festivities and excitement, we all may find some heavier emotion. Grief can show up in a number of different ways. For some of us, it’s relatively obvious – we remember someone who isn’t here, and we feel both sad that they are gone, and happy that we knew them. But for others, grief can be trickier. It can showed up disguised in a number of other emotions, or “acting out,” particularly for children or teens.
I like to talk with people about having a Bill of Rights for Grieving. You can find variations of this online. The basic idea is that you, and people close to you, have the right to experience grief however it comes up for you, as long as you need to, as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or someone else in the process.
It’s important to give yourself permission to grieve in your own individual way, because grief can show up in many different ways. Sometimes grief shows up as anger. Sometimes it shows up as physical symptoms, such as feeling anxious, exhausted, or achy. When someone is grieving, they just may not seem themselves. This is particularly true for children and teens, who haven’t learned how to cope with grief.
And, it’s important to know that you have the right to grieve the people, events, or things that you grieve. We most often talk about grief in terms of losing a person or a pet to death. However, we can experience grief for a multitude of other losses as well – the loss of a career, the loss of a marriage, the loss of a long-held dream. This year, because of all the changes we have faced, people are grieving the many things that didn’t happen the way they were expected to. And even when you have adapted, been creative, and found some positive meaning in what you’ve been through, it is also acceptable to grieve the fact that things aren’t the way you imagined they would be, back in January 2020.
I would encourage you to talk about the people and things you are grieving with family and friends. Find creative and meaningful ways to create a ritual so you can acknowledge your loss.
But if you don’t have a safe place to talk about your grief, reach out to a therapist, faith leader, or support group for a confidential space to experience and learn how to cope with your grief. This is especially important if you find that grief is preventing you from doing the things you need to do in your life, or if you realize you’ve increased unhealthy coping, such as drinking more alcohol or taking more pills. Please seek immediate help if you find yourself thinking that you wish you could be with the people you have lost to death, or if you are feeling hopeless, despairing, or that in your grief you are a burden to those around you.
Feel free to give us a call at White Cloud Therapeutic Services, LLC, if you would like some help with grief, creating grief rituals, or adapting your usual family traditions to your current situation. This practice is taking new patients – to see a list of providers visit here: www.whitecloudtherapy.com or you can call 757-503-7197.
Article was written and sponsored by Madeline Vann, NCC, M.Ed. at White Cloud Therapeutic Services