Understanding grief as a journey and the importance of time and personal pace.

If you ask ten different people what grief is, you may get ten different answers, and each answer would be correct. Although there is a definition for the word "grief" itself, the distinct way each person processes grief makes it a unique experience. As a Certified Grief Educator, I am committed to providing the highest level of grief support through education, experience, and insights into the often-unacknowledged rocky terrain of grief. As a Bereaved Survivor and the Bereavement Liaison for the City of Houston, my goals include providing support, guidance, and resources. Understanding grief, its personal impact, and how to deal with it are key factors in the healing process.

Understanding grief: a natural response to loss
What is grief? Grief is a natural response to loss. It's the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, deep sorrow, and profound sadness.

"Grieving" describes the internal experience of the one who has suffered a loss. Grief is what we think and feel on the inside; feelings such as sadness, fear, regret, and even numbness, are all part of grieving. The term "grieve" is used to describe the external emotional expressions that manifest from internal grief. You cannot see a person’s grief unless they exhibit it through external visual expression or emotions.
COVID-19 forever changed the world. It brought the world to its knees and brought attention to the silent world of grief and grieving. Before COVID, people often grieved in silence, but COVID highlighted and amplified the emotional need for people to express the pain they were experiencing.

Usually, when we think of grief, we associate it with the loss of a loved one. However, you can experience grief with any loss. Be it the loss of a job, a pet, a relationship, a divorce, the functionality of your body or mind, old wounds from the past, a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the loss of someone to addiction, bad decisions, or the loss of who we wished someone was after they have passed. You mourn who they were and who you wish they could have been. Visit https://grief.com/grief-help/ to find a list of worldwide Grief Educators with various certifications and licenses such as licensed therapists, psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists.

The individual journey: grieving is a personal process
The grief journey is as unique as a fingerprint; there's no one-size-fits-all approach to grieving—we all grieve differently. Various factors influence how we grieve, leading people who share a loss to grieve differently. It's crucial to mention the grief journey for children and teens, which can be exceptionally challenging. We often try to shield them from the pain, providing them with partial or distorted information, but as they grow and mature, obtaining new information can retrigger grief related to a previous loss. Support is necessary; grieving alone, and grieving without support, is not healthy.

 

Navigating grief: the importance of time and personal pace
You have permission to grieve in your way and at your own pace. Grief is not something you can rush through. David Kessler, a world-renowned grief expert with decades of experience helping people navigate the challenges of grief, shared a comforting statement during one of our classes:

"Grief is our mind revolving and replaying events and emotions of what our heart can't erase. Time doesn’t heal all because grief is not an illness; it is a new part of our journey in life. It is critical to allow yourself to grieve and experience the emotions and not run from them. We cannot run from grief; what we run from, pursues us, and what we face, transforms us. All your feelings may not go away, but the hope is that over time, you can grieve with more love than pain."

 

Grief Support

 

   102022 Betty Davis 0003 72

By Betty Davis-Gilbert
Bereavement Liaison
Human Resources | HR Operations
City of Houston