Experiencing grief is inevitable, and we’ll face it sooner or later. For instance, losing a loved one is a tough challenge for a family, and it can take a long time for them to recover from the heartache. Nonetheless, families can overcome this sad reality if they grieve together and move forward with grief.
We have heard multiple times that we have to “move on from grief.” However, according to Nora McInerny, an author, we do not move on from grief. We move forward with it. She also reminds people that “we need to remember that someone who is grieving will laugh again and smile again. […] Absolutely, they’re going to move forward, although this doesn’t mean that they’ve moved on.”
Effects Of Grief
Grief can affect us in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to family relations. We are in a state of shock of disbelief whenever we recall the time our loved one has departed. Some of us may cry when we remember them, some don’t cry at all, or they feel numb.
Grief can also affect us physically—it can be truly exhausting. It weakens our immune system, making us prone to colds or other illnesses. Family members may also isolate themselves from others as a way to cope and move on from the loss.
These situations are typical whenever we feel grief. However, when things get complicated or when the loss of our loved one came from a traumatic experience, it may interfere with our daily lives and can lead to depression. That being said, each family member must stick together during this grueling time.
Family Members Have Different Ways Of Coping
There is no absolute way on how to grieve. We must respect each family member’s way of grieving or coping mechanism. Give yourself space as well to grieve on your own. According to Sarah Epstein, MFT, “If an individual’s form of grief brings discomfort for you, take notice of it and perhaps leave the room. Do not keep on making a person feel bad about the way they grieve, as long as it does not hurt others.”
In David Kessler and Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s book On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss, they explained the five phases of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Karen Dela Cruz, an assistant professor from Brigham Young University, says that these five stages are simply rough guidelines, and “they do not occur in order, and they’re rather more fluid than was previously thought. You can go to and fro and in between them, you can be in two stages at once, and not everybody goes through every stage.”
Know That You Are Not Alone
You may feel that other members have moved on from grieving, while you haven’t. Some family members grieve longer, and some, although they may seem stoic, get sudden flashbacks from the past and feel heartbroken all over again. The beauty of family life is that we are never alone in our struggles. We always watch out for and help one another. Let your family member feel that they are not alone through these simple ways:
- Send Something
Make one of your family members feel appreciated while they going through a hard time by sending something. It may be in the form of giving them flowers, writing a simple handwritten message saying that we will get through this, or baking them their favorite cookies or brownies.
- Offer A Helping Hand
Some of our family members need practical support in doing tasks because your departed loved one used to do them when they were still alive. Moreover, grief makes them less motivated to do simple daily tasks. Lend a hand to your family member by doing these chores and see what you can do based on your ability and skills.
Some of these tasks may include mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, or teaching other family members on household responsibilities. You may not be the perfect person for that job, but what matters most is that you can decrease the burden of your bereaved family members from work left by the deceased.
- Be There For Them
“Let me know if you need anything” may be one of the most cliché messages a bereaved family member or friend may receive. This message may not give them the assurance and support that they need during this time.
Be a supportive family member by showing that you are the person that they can count on. Be physically there in times when your bereaved family member needs someone, check on them regularly through text or call, offer a hug, share stories and pictures with the person you both miss, and many more.
Seek Family Therapy If Necessary
Psychologists can help each family member better handle anxiety, fear, or depression from the loss of a loved one. Family therapy is a type of psychological counseling that creates more meaningful and healthy conversations among family members. Through family therapy, you and your family members can better understand one another and learn coping mechanisms that will bring you closer together.
Grief Takes Time
As we try to become better versions of ourselves, we must acknowledge that what we are feeling is normal. In times like this, being there for your family members is more vital than ever. We are not alone, and our family will always be there for us, especially during hard times. Things will be better as you slowly move forward with your family.