"OUR GRIEF IS AS UNIQUE
AS OUR FINGERPRINT;
THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO GRIEF"
"The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you'll learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to."
ELISABETH KÜBLER-ROSS AND DAVID KESSLER
TIMELINE OF GRIEF
While we know there’s no timeline in grief, and no two people experience grief in the same way, this timeline may be helpful in determining interventions.
Anticipatory grief: Grief before the death
Acute grief: When it just happened
Early grief: The first two years
Mature grief: The rest of their lives
AS A GRIEF EDUCATOR:
I understand grief can be traumatic and transformative.
I believe people in grief are not broken, and we don’t need to fix them.
I feel that the foundation of serving comes from a place of connection. Empathy, genuineness, honesty, and respect are essential elements of being a grief educator.
I’m committed to providing a safe space for those in grief.
I think connection is important to our well-being.
I use a mind/body/spirit approach to grief and remind people of the importance of connection to themselves, their friends, family, & community, and of continuing to cultivate an ongoing relationship with their loved one who had died.
I provide an individualized approach to grief.
I know there is no timeline in grief and here is not a cure. But I also realize that as grief educators, we can reflect and guide people toward creating a life that honors their loved ones.
I offer a holistic approach to grieving. I focus on the past, present, and future and understand that in addition to the loss, culture, community, spirituality, and beliefs play a role in the individual’s grief.
I believe that the responsibility for change lies with the griever. I can inform, reflect, and support others; but their journey is ultimately their own.
I understand that in order to serve others, I must take care of ourselves. Self-care is essential to maintain our emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social wellness.
TYPES OF GRIEF
Delayed: Grief that we don’t feel in the moment because it’s not safe or we’re in survival mode.
Disenfranchised: Any grief we judge or minimize.
Ambiguous: Grief that’s hard to see.
Inconclusive: There is nobody to grieve. There is hope. It breeds conspiracy theories.
Complicated: When painful emotions of loss don't improve with time and are so severe that you have trouble resuming and or creating your life.
Collective and public: When we grieve as a group about an event or public figure.
Traumatic: Combines trauma with bereavement or grief responses.
Masked: Grief that it's presenting in another way and the resulting feeling is actually a response to grief.
Anticipatory: The grief that comes before death.
Cumulative: When someone experiences multiple losses. during a short period and or unattended grief that builds up.
Secondary Loss: The other losses that accompany grief in addition to the primary emotional response.
MY GRIEF JOURNEY
As humans, we experience many losses during our lifetime. Some of us are given the language, emotional awareness, and skills to recognize and relate to what we are experiencing; others struggle to identify, process, and heal those losses in a healthy way.
My own journey with loss and grief started at a very young age when I lost my parrot, Pepe. Pepe was my secret keeper, my safe place to be who I really was; when Pepe died after 6 years with me I had no idea how to grieve him. I remember crying for hours, trying to make sense of my loss. After that, I experienced another major loss at 10 years old; my family relocated to another country for a sabbatical year. Relocating meant to live our own house, community, country, and identity; it meant learning a new language, making new friends, and learning a new way of living. As the year passed, I found myself very soon saying goodbye to all whom I learned to love and to my new life. I remember the intense heartbreak I felt as I said goodbye to my friend Lilac. She became my sister by choice; our connection was genuine and pure. Leaving her was unbearable. Once again, I didn't know what to do with my pain. I suffer silently for a long time.
During my teenage years, I had very similar losses, finding myself struggling to find a way to understand and process the overwhelming emotions I was experiencing. During my Masters's Degree, one of my most meaningful professors died unexpectedly, awakening in me a pain that was pushed down for years. A few later, my mother-in-law died after battling cancer for 5 years. I remember her funeral today as if it happened a few months ago. I can still remember the intensity of feeling brokenhearted, my heart pounding so fast, and my vision blurry. I found myself feeling lost, a very familiar pain, without the skills to hold it and know what to do with it.
After that, I experienced other losses, and I accompanied friends and clients while they grieved a loved one. Having matured personally and professionally, gave me a better understanding of grief and grieving.
However, nothing prepared me for the pain and feelings that losing my dad had awakened in me. This time I have been able to attend to and process my grief differently.
Today, after attending David Kessler's certification to become a Grief Educator, I have the language and the understanding of the different types of grief, the difference between grieving and mourning, and the tools to support me and others in grief. Today I understand that grief must be witnessed, not changed or fixed, not minimized. People in grief are not broken; we are in pain, loving, and missing forever what and whom we lost.
One of the most important things I have learned is that grief does not have a timeline; grief will show up on different days and times during our life. Today I know that grief will be part of my life until my last breath on this planet. I will miss my dad forever; I will honor and celebrate our lives forever, since it's the most beautiful choice I can make, not just for me but also for him.