Not everyone has the same grieving experience. Grieving is individual so to help people, it is best to allow them to look at grief as their own personal and unique journey that will inevitably have its ups and downs.
Individuals need to be forgiving of themselves as they mourn because there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and there is no right or wrong timeline. They also need to be able to give themselves permission to be angry, be sad, to cry, and even to feel relief that a loved one is no longer suffering.
It is common for individuals to feel some guilt, whether it is because of the relief they may be feeling or because they feel as though they should have, or could have, done something to prevent the death. Understanding that they made decisions in the past based off of the information they had, or did not have, at that time is important when challenging the guilt related to this belief.
It is also encouraged that individuals create healthy boundaries with family and friends in order to take care of themselves while grieving. It can be very difficult for those who are struggling to be assertive with well-meaning people, but it is important to have time for self-care and to utilize coping techniques like exercise, relaxation, taking time to rest and maintaining a healthy diet; all of which are essential due to the exhausting nature of grief.
When the person is ready, he or she should take some time to remember some of the positive and happy memories about their loved one and to feel okay with this. Often those who are grieving believe it is not their right to feel joyful after a loss.
By Michelle Angsten, MS LPC, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, Waupaca