By: Dr. Alan Wolfelt
“Someone you love has died. In your heart, you have come to know your deepest pain. From my own experiences with loss as well as those of the thousands of people I have counseled over the years, I have learned that we cannot go around the pain of our grief. Instead, we must learn to embrace and express it.
“This is hard but absolutely necessary work.” — Dr. Alan Wolfelt
What is Grief:
Grief is whatever you think and feel inside about the death. Any thoughts, emotions, physical symptoms, and even unexpected behaviors you are experiencing because of the death are part of your grief.
Sometimes people think of grief as sadness. Actually, grief is much more than that. Grief is often a combination of feelings such as shock, confusion, anxiety, anger, regret, and sadness. The mixture of feelings can change from minute to minute or from day to day.
Your mind is trying to understand the death. You may find yourself thinking about memories, the events leading up to the death, practical worries, concerns about the future, and more. You might be having a hard time concentrating. All these thoughts are a natural part of your grief, too.
Your body experiences grief as well. You may be having trouble sleeping. Your energy levels may be low. Muscle aches and pain, tightness in your throat or chest, headaches, digestion troubles, and heart palpitations are also common.
Finally, you may be behaving differently. You might be crying, pacing, yelling, or isolating yourself. Your interactions with others might seem out of character. Whatever your behavior may be right now, as long as you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else, it’s OK. It’s a normal and necessary part of your grief.
What is Mourning:
Grief is what you think and feel on the inside, and mourning is when you express that grief outside of yourself. Mourning is grief inside out. Mourning is showing and doing.
When you cry, you are mourning. When you talk to someone else about the death, you are mourning. When you write in a journal, put together a photo display, or write a thank-you note for a casserole you received, you are mourning.
We all naturally grieve when someone we love dies, but it’s also essential to mourn. Mourning is how you move toward hope and healing.