School is starting soon, summer vacation season will end, and autumn will be upon us before we know it. Season changes can be difficult for people who have lost loved ones recently. Every season brings memories that can accentuate the loss and present new challenges.
Fortunately, our community has resources to help through grief and loss. Heart of the Cumberland will begin new grief support groups beginning Tuesday, August 2 at 6 p.m., running through Tuesday, October 11. They will offer additional groups at the end of August, with the dates being announced soon. Several area churches offer grief groups throughout the year as well. You don’t have to walk through the grieving process alone. Please look for more helpful information under the Grief Resources section of our website.
Grief is a universal response to the losses of life. We will all experience grief and mourning as we journey through life. Grief can be disorienting and can feel unnatural. Accepting the idea that grieving, although difficult, is a normal response to loss and is an important part of the healing process.
Although we all respond to grief differently and our mourning is very personal, there are things we can do to help move through the experience in a healthy way. Understanding that grief impacts us physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually is the first step.
Grief can produce fatigue and other physical symptoms. It is important to maintain healthy eating, sleeping and exercise habits, even though it may be difficult to find the motivation to do so. One woman decided to honor the memory of her son by adopting a healthy lifestyle herself. She used the memory of her son to motivate her to walk each day. Walking became a positive way to remember her son and express her grief.
Many people become forgetful or feel disoriented during the first few weeks or months after suffering a loss. Some people feel they’re “going crazy” when these unfamiliar feelings strike. This is a normal reaction to loss and usually gets better as the grieving process continues.
Grief can produce a wide range of emotional responses that are unique to each person. However, sometimes intense feelings of grief can come suddenly. These are sometimes called “grief waves” or “grief attacks.” These “waves” can produce tears, sobbing, and can make us feel like we’re losing control. These feelings are normal and can even be useful in moving through loss. Keeping a journal, listening to music, reading Scripture and praying can be useful ways to cope when these intense feelings strike.
Social changes are sometimes the most difficult to navigate. Friends and family, while invaluable in offering encouragement and support, often don’t know what to say or how to help. They may be working through their own feelings of grief. Grief groups facilitated by people who have experienced loss themselves sometimes are the best sources of support. Seeking support from others often strengthens our ability to heal. Structured support groups or even informal groups can be especially helpful by creating an environment of safety and companionship.
Grief can have a spiritual impact as well. Many people find hope in their belief that God never leaves us, even in times of grieving. However, it is not unusual to question God and doubt His love when our feelings of grief seem overwhelming. Prayer is a safe and healing way to express our feelings and questions to God. He knows our hearts even when the words won’t come. Many people find that their spiritual journey through grief results in a stronger faith, eventually enabling them to help others through similar losses.
Grieving our loved ones is the result of giving and receiving love. Reconciliation of our grief will come as we move intentionally through the process of mourning. We are blessed to live in a community where a culture of help is supported. Grieving people who who seek support from others often strengthen their capacity to heal. We are here to help you connect with the resources available to help with grief and loss. Please call us anytime to learn more.