C.S. Lewis once stated, “I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process”. In the midst of expressing grief I believe it is often best understood as a process. C.S. Lewis later explains that “the death of a beloved is an amputation” as we mourn our loss and learn what it means to walk again. Grief can occur at a variety of entry points in our lives such as the death of a friend or family member, a diagnosis, moving, or the loss of a pet.
Grief can be manifested in our lives through various reactions including physical, emotional, mental, social, behavioral, and spiritual symptoms. Some of the symptoms associated with such reactions may include;
- Physical: Pain, fatigue, appetite, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath…
- Emotional: Numbness, depression, anger, guilt, shame…
- Mental: Confusion, forgetfulness, expectation to see deceased individual…
- Social: Isolation and withdrawal from social activities
- Behaviors: Tearfulness and time management…
- Spiritual: Questions about God and questions about deceased – where are they?
Kubler-Ross elaborated on grief as being processed in 5 stages which include: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Unfortunately, many individuals become conflicted in one of the previously listed stages and wrestle with their unresolved grief, which can further interfere with their well-being. Therefore, helpful suggestions toward acts of encouragement while walking alongside the grieving may include:
- Call and visit
- Say little on an early visit
- Be yourself
- Keep in touch
- Attend to practical matters
- Encourage others to visit or help
- Accept silence
- Be a good listener
In conclusion, it may be difficult to truly comfort a grieving person when individuals have not processed their own experiences relating to grief. I hope that the this information has provided further insight to how you may be able to process some of your own experiences with grief, and that the relationships you are building with one another can provide ongoing support for walking alongside individuals grieving.