What is Grief?
If you have experienced the death of someone you love or another significant event which has changed your life, you will likely experience grief. Grief is defined as the deep sorrow which results from loss, especially the death of a loved one. Understanding more about grief and the grieving process can help you heal, yet grief is frequently misunderstood. Many misconceptions exist in regard to how individuals process their grief and loss. In order to help you understand your grief, please see below a list of “frequently asked questions” about grief, adapted from Dr. Alan Wolfelt’s Center for Loss and Transition.
Q: Are “Grief” and “Mourning” the same thing?
A: Although we often use the words “grief” and “mourning” interchangeably, they are distinct concepts. Grief is comprised of the emotions we feel and thoughts we have when someone we love has died- sadness, loneliness, anger, emptiness, etc. Mourning refers to expressing that inner experience in an external way, such as talking about or otherwise expressing our feelings to friends, family, or in support groups or counseling.
Q: Should I be following the “Stages of Grief?” What happens if I do them out of order?
A: Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross created the 5 Stage Model of Grief in 1969 in her book, On Death and Dying. Dr. Kübler -Ross’ model states that those who are grieving often experience Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance as part of the grieving process. Dr. Kübler-Ross also notes that although many people experience these emotions, there is no typical way to grieve, as there are no typical losses. The way we grieve is as unique as we are as people. Not everyone experiences these emotions, and certainly not always in that order. Grief is not always predictable or even logical; sometimes when we expect to grief to be, it is often harder to cope.
Q: I heard it is better for me to “chin up” and push away my feelings. Will this help me get through grief faster?
A: Unfortunately, our society is one in which death, dying, and grief is not openly discussed. In fact, many bereaved people feel as though they are pressured to “move on” or “get over” grief very quickly. When those who are grieving do not openly mourn – by “suffering in silence,” “being strong,” or refusing to cry–they are often praised. Conversely, those who openly mourn may be seen as “weak,” “crazy,” or “selfish.” When we attempt to repress or hide what we are feeling, it can make us feel worse. If we do not receive any validation for what we are feeling, we can start to feel like we are “going crazy,” or that something is wrong with us. In order to heal, it is often best to give our emotions expression and not to ignore them.
Q: Is it true that tears are a sign of weakness or would make me look weak?
A: Again, in our society people (especially men) are often discouraged from showing any strong emotion like tears or sadness. Often, when our families and friends see us crying, they want to help us feel better but may feel helpless to do so. They may say things like “crying won’t help” or “emotions like these won’t bring your loved one back,” which in turn may make us feel guilty for showing tears. In truth, crying can often be a powerful release of emotions, and can demonstrate to others that we need extra support. Tears are more a sign of the love you had for the deceased, rather than a sign of weakness.
Q: I just want to get over these feelings as soon as possible. How can I do that?
A: A question the bereaved hear very frequently is “are you better yet?” or “are you over it yet?” Saying we will “get over” something implies that our lives will return to the way they were. After someone we loved has died, our lives are forever changed. It seems we do not “get over” the death of loved one, but rather adjust to our lives without that person. Over time, we will slowly reconstruct our lives without the presence of our loved one; this is not something that happens all at once, or overnight, but one day at a time. We will come to understand that our loved one will never be forgotten, and will always hold a special place in our lives. We will also begin to move forward, and create a new future for ourselves.
How Can Circle of Life Help?
Our Bereavement team is comprised of trained professionals who support those struggling with grief and loss. We offer a variety of support groups, grief classes, and workshops to assist those who have experienced a loss. Please see below for a brief description of our services.
Support Groups for Adults
Grief support groups are offered for individuals grieving the death of a person whom they loved. Groups provided a safe and support environment for participants to express their families as they process their grief. Our support groups are open to anyone in the community, regardless of whether they were on our hospice service. Registration is required in advance of the class. Please see our attached calendar for dates and times.
Grief Support after the Death of a Child
This support group is designed for parents or caregivers who have experienced the death of a young child. Please see our attached calendar for dates and times.
Adult Six Week Grief Class
Our six week grief classes are designed to provide you with a set of concrete skills and information to better understand and process your grief. Open to all adults in our community, our adult Grief Classes are offered on a quarterly basis and are offered at both our Springdale and Bentonville locations. Please see our attached calendar for dates and times.
Children’s Six Week Art Workshop
This six week workshop is for children ages 5-12 who have experienced the death of someone close to them. Art is integrated during the class time as a way of helping children process their grief. These classes are co-facilitated by JoAnn Kaminsty, a registered art and play therapist, and our Bereavement Counselor. Classes meet simultaneously with the adult Grief Class, so parents and caregivers can attend our adult class if they wish. Registration is required in advance of the class. Please see our attached calendar for dates and times.
Our Bereavement team can provide trainings or presentations to your organization on topics including but not limited to Children, Adolescents, and Grief, Grief in the Workplace, and Grief at the Holidays as well as providing debriefings for organizations who have experienced the death of a coworker or staff member. Please contact our bereavement department at the telephone number listed below for a full description of our community support services.
There is no charge for any of our grief support services
Questions? Please call us today at 479-872-3338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org