Take a moment on August 30th to learn more about grief/bereavement, its impact in our lives and how we can address such when we face loss. A day being petitioned to be established as a recognized national observance in the USA, Angie Cartwright is working towards making the grief experience a seen and talked about experience. One valuable way Looking Glass Counseling talks about grief and bereavement is by creating content that talks about and normalizes the experiences of death and loss.
Bereavement/Grief is a concept that encapsulates the death and loss of a person, place, thing, pet, experience or anything we miss when it is gone from our lives. When working with clients, sometimes what is lost is deeply loved, a toxic/abusive connection, apathy producing, or some combination of such. The Tribute Archive posted a quick summary of what grief can look like. Click here, to read about the five stages of grief/bereavement.
A quick caveat I want to put here is that the stages of grief aren’t always linear. In fact, the stages of grief can be experienced in a different order than listed or we might not experience all or any of the stages due to how the bereavement impacts us. Remember that loss is an individualized experience.
To cope with bereavement, here are a few ideas I recommend to clients when I navigate this topic:
Seek out support. When going through loss, it can feel overwhelming. Think about and identify a few people in your life who you can talk to or can be with you at various points in the midst of anticipated or experienced loss.
Make time to reflect. Whether you process your thoughts/feelings best via journaling, talking to a support, listening to music or taking a walk in nature, make time to reflect on the loss. Processing your internal experience can help regulate your feelings and make the loss more manageable.
Take things slow. This might mean reducing your scheduling, making time to be alone, or adjusting your social/work responsibilities to compensate for your emotional experience. We are allowed to do things at a different pace than those around us, especially as it can help us cope with our loss.
Make space. This might mean asking to be alone, taking a mental health day or making room for something that can be life giving. Sometimes, it’s making space to seek out supports, to reflect or take things slow.
I hope this resource is a helpful start point or reminder for your wellness journey. Share this with a close ally or your therapist to keep the dialogue going.
Lou Lim, LMHC, REAT is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.