August 30th is National Grief Awareness Day
Grief awareness has acquired new importance with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Researchers estimate that each person who dies from the disease leaves behind nine grieving people. Behind the numbers, the actual bereaved may be a child, a spouse or sibling of varied ages, and the different time horizons of everyone’s loss influence how friends can offer effective support.
The death of a loved one or enduring an extreme change in lifestyle can trigger grief and the healing process takes time. National Grief Awareness Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the myriad ways in which individuals cope with loss. It offers resources to those going through personal losses and reminds us to support people we know who are grieving. National Grief Awareness Day, founded by Angie Cartwright in 2014, hopes to encourage open communication on loss and bereavement and better inform the public on the facts of grief.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL GRIEF AWARENESS DAY
- Support a grieving friend:
If a friend has been honest with you and shared a current story of grief or loss, today is the day to be an extra shoulder for them to cry on. While acknowledging that everyone processes their feelings differently, offer to support your friend in whatever way they need.
- Engage in self-care:
In the throes of grief, a normal human response to loss, self-judgment, and anger are not productive emotions. Rather than attempting to push yourself onto an acceptable “grieving timeline,” remember that there is no one path for those in mourning, and engage in self-care by letting yourself feel whatever you’re feeling.
- Post #NationalGriefAwarenessDay:
Help National Grief Awareness Day accomplish its mission of educating the public on grief by sharing what you’ve learned on social media. Creating space for any kind of reaction to loss is healthy for you, and might just be what someone in your social circle needed to see.
FIVE IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT GRIEF
- Myth: Grief = Mourning
Though not widely known, it’s true that mourning and grief cannot be used interchangeably — grief is the internal pain associated with loss, while mourning is the external expression of that pain and it often facilitates grief.
- Grief often comes with secondary losses
While the trauma of losing a loved one is hard enough, those in mourning frequently must cope with a secondary associated loss, like loss of financial security or loss of housing.
- Myth: Grief happens in clearly defined stages
While professionals have identified significant stages of grief that often occur, it is possible and even common for those working through grief to skip steps entirely, have more than one reaction at once, or move backward through steps.
- Grief requires effort
‘Grief-work’ is the term often used to refer to a grief response — the physical and emotional toll of grief deeply affects the lives of those going through it, so it’s important to engage in self-care throughout.
- Myth: Grief can be completely resolved
Sadly, many people who have experienced loss report that grief, in some form or another, continues for the rest of their lives. Like many other mental ailments, it can recur in varying levels of intensity for years.
WHY NATIONAL GRIEF AWARENESS DAY IS IMPORTANT
- It raises awareness
Many people — both who have and haven’t experienced significant losses — don’t have a firm grasp on what grief is and how to cope with it. Spreading awareness on grief to the general public helps to better support those who are grieving and gives those who are not tools for when they encounter grief someday.
- It saves lives
For some, grief can turn into dangerous and lonely depression. It’s essential to support yourself and others while going through a loss, as a reminder that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
- It offers resources
It can be hard to find the resources and organizations you need while grieving. National Grief Awareness Day can greatly help by connecting mourners to the psychological, emotional, and even financial resources they need to cope with their losses.
For Grief Awareness Day this year, consider how you can honor losses across all the timelines of grief. Learn more about the timelines by clicking HERE.