Grief is a messy emotion which cannot be put behind us or overcome and not to be fixed. Grief according to the Webster definition is a “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.” This keen mental suffering and distress can have a deep impact on not just our emotional state but also on our physical wellbeing.
The five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) put forth by Elisabeth Kugler-Ross, a renowned psychiatrist, were not to be the roadmap of how we journey through loss. We need to rethink the way we look at grief. Grief is not simply something one goes through and eventually comes around to living with the loss. Grief is something we respect and tend to. Grief ebbs and flows like a wave. It is important to allow your feelings to flow, as the wave hits the shore of your mind and body. We allow ourselves to move through the emotions as the wave flows back out to sea. How we tend to our grief is unique to each individual. Some may journal while others may pray and others may find it helpful to talk with a trusted loved on or friend.
It can be difficult sitting with a friend or loved one who his grieving. The first thing we may want to do is say something to make that person feel better, i.e. “he/she/they are in a better place.” Statements like this can be hard for the grieving to understand because life with them was for them “the better place.”
When we sit with someone who has experienced a loss remember we have a supporting role not a fix it role. A supporting role means we try to understand the loss and recognize we do not have the power to repair the pain. A supporting role means we do not make their grief and pain about us. A supporting role is being present to the grieving in the way they need not so much in the way we think they need. A supporting role means being willing not to have any answers, actively listening and being present, after all the power of love is endless.