First, it is important to recognize that there is the potential for individuals to experience love, joy and happiness after a loss. Sometimes, they need help realizing this potential in themselves. You can help them do that.
Knowing that grief can be looked at in three different compartments can be used as a visual to easily get a concept across; the beginning, middle and future; where they live, laugh and love life again. For many individuals when they are in the beginning or middle of grief the last thing, they can conceive is a life without pain and loss.
How they get to the other side of grief and loss is different for everyone, but it is possible. As with life there are many roads to travel, many places to see. Sometimes they are in charge of what happens and other times they go with the flow.
Shock, denial, disbelief, and numbness can be experienced in the beginning. Most often people will express this in their conversations; “I can’t believe this has happened”.
Sadness, crying, overwhelmed, anxious, and wanting to run away are some reactions experienced by grieving individuals when they are in the middle of grieving. You can be the one to help them articulate what they are feeling by putting words to the jumble of emotions.
Stepping into fears, trying new things, meeting new people by chance introduction or seeing old friends who become a new part of life now, can all be components of the future on the other side of grief and loss. New job, travelling, participating with new group activities, gardening, painting or doing whatever they want to do to live, laugh and love life again.
You can help them see the progress they have made since their loss experience began. Often, the growth happens and individuals do not see how far they have come. Perhaps, you have noticed this in yourself or others.
A new and different life without the person who has died can evolve, if the choice to do so has been made. For many this is a time of creating a new normal, because the life they had with the other person will never be the same again.
New friendships can come from the least expected places and people. Life can be viewed as a new adventure each day with new hopes and dreams. A new belief in self and perhaps others as they experience life with strength and courage.
You can reinforce that the door to the past does not need to shut completely and can always be opened as often and as far as they want it to. Perhaps with your help, they decide what side of grief and loss to be on.
All my best
Barbara Gillett Saunders