Tonight I attended a session given by Doug Manning on the topic of grief at the Roberts Family Funeral Home. For two quick hours I listened to him outline the journey of grief, while my eyes flooded with the raw feelings of Shawn’s death. Mr. Manning defined grief as the natural reaction to any loss, emphasizing the words any and natural. Anything we lose creates grief. The degrees of grief vary, yet we all experience loss in some form, whether we lose our billfold (a low degree of grief) or a loved one (the most severe level of grief) we all can relate to how grief can affect our senses, state of mind, physical responses and emotional health.
One of the best ways mentioned to cope with any loss is to talk about the pain and recognize it. One of the things that make us feel better is to be heard and validated. Like our very own thumbprint, grief is unique and individual. And although we each grieve loss differently, we all search for significance from what is newly missing.
Through years of work and observation, Mr. Manning has noticed that the grieving process takes at least two years and possibly longer. This does not mean that the dull ache ever fully goes away, but the loss does transition and life is reconstructed. I stared at him in a bit of disbelief as I immediately whispered to myself, “I am just starting. I have survived a year. Now as year two begins, I am just beginning to learn the fuller extent of loss. Year one does not graduate me. I am just starting.”
He encouraged people that the three best things to offer a person suffering from loss can be remembered as the “3 H’s ~ Hang Around, Hugs and Hush”. The most important gift is our presence. In addition, the power of touch and the power of silence should not be underestimated. We give people permission to grieve when we provide a safe place for them to talk about what hurts the most. Grieving people are searching for safety. There is nothing safe about loss. This now makes sense why I am continually seeking acceptance from others. I am really trying to gain back some sense of security. It is part of my reconstruction project.