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Grief and Loss

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This months “Let’s Chat” is about something we’ve noticed coming up in the community recently, and is brought to you by one of our favourite psychologists, Rashida. This is a safe, open space to chat about grief and loss, especially as the holidays can bring up a lot of tough feelings. We encourage you to share your experiences below and know that you're not alone ❤️


What is grief?

The first thing to note about grief is that it is complex. It is layered, it is not just ‘one’ emotion or experience, and it looks and feels differently for each individual person experiencing it. 


There are many different types of grief and loss, including: 

  • Non-Death Loss. A person can grieve the loss of anything significant to their physical, psychological, spiritual, and interpersonal lives.
  • Secondary Loss. After experiencing a devastating loss, grieving people are often surprised to find there is a ripple effect of subsequent losses.
  • Cumulative Loss. Cumulative loss refers to the experience of suffering a new loss before you have the chance to grieve a first loss.
  • Ambiguous Loss. Ambiguous loss happens when you're grieving someone who is still living.
  • Non-finite Loss. When what we envisioned or hoped for doesn’t turn out that way.
  • Collective Grief: An experience of a collective or community of people grieving the same thing. 


Because there are so many different types of grief, managing your grief may look very different based on your experience. Remember, you are never ‘getting it wrong’ when it comes to grief.


Grief around the holidays
Grief around the holidays may show up for a variety of reasons. Grief is not a linear journey, so it can sometimes show up unexpectedly. You may smell, hear, or see something that activates your grief and catches you off-guard. Remember we grow around our grief, it’s not something to ‘get over’. The aim is not to stop grieving altogether, but to stay resilient and be able to function in your life alongside your grief. 


Grief can make it more difficult to stay grounded and stable, so make sure you’re allowing for consistency or stability in your life whilst grieving in the holiday period. An example of this is having a day-to-day ritual of something grounding, like having a warm drink each morning, anchoring your feet to the ground and curiously engaging with the sensations, or doing 5 minutes of focused breathing. It may be especially important to get the most support around the initial stages of grief and also on milestones or the ‘firsts’ related to the grief, like anniversaries or significant holidays and events. There isn’t a ‘normal’ timeline for grief and no finish line for when you are supposed to stop grieving these events. 


Looking after others who are grieving

Looking after people who are grieving can come in many forms. You can try: 


  • holding space and allowing them to share how they are feeling, and not pressuring them to ‘get over it’ or to move on,
  • listening to them speak without offering your opinions, advice, or solutions,
  • doing a physical act like helping them with their garden or house chores, cooking for them, or taking them out to create new memories and experiences,
  • supporting them later down the track, when other people in their life may have continued with their lives but they are still grieving.


Grief without closure

It can be difficult to experience grief or loss when you don’t have the chance to get closure. Closure won’t always be possible with grief and loss, but you don’t always need closure to heal, process and move forward with your life. Life will, at times, include loss and obstacles that are complicated. The need to have things completely ‘resolved’ to no longer feel any difficult emotions sometimes gets in the way of how life realistically unfolds. Life will often provide you with challenges — the aim is not to never feel distressing emotions, but know that you can feel them and still be ok.


Looking after yourself

Compassion is an important part of any grief journey.  An example of being compassionate towards yourself would be making sure you’re using gentle, forgiving and kind language when speaking to yourself or reflecting on how you’re coping with your grief. Don’t criticise yourself for not ‘getting over it’ or for being upset. 


It’s important to remember that grief is universal. Everyone will experience loss or grief at some point in their lives, so you’re never alone in your feelings of grief. Although your grief and loss experiences will be unique, there is comfort in knowing this is a shared human experience. 

Stay gentle and compassionate to yourself, and know that over time you will grow around your grief.

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