Coping with Grief and Loss
We often make the mistake of treating grief as though it’s a straightforward process of moving through clearly defined stages. We’re keen to ‘do grief correctly’, but grief doesn’t obey the rules. Grief is a part of the story of our experiences with our loved one. There is no set timeline in which we must complete the narrative, and although there are many shared elements, every story is unique.
If you’re struggling with loss, no matter how recent or distant it is in time, keep some things in mind:
Go at your own pace
Your experience will not follow a strict schedule. Don’t concern yourself with what your grief should look. Don’t feel guilty if you cannot cry, or if you can laugh. There is not a time limit on feelings of loss. Difficult anniversaries and special occasions can bring powerful feelings to the surface. These events can be frustrating, but they are not setbacks; it is a normal part of losing someone close to you.
Learn About Grieving
Our feelings during periods of grief can be complicated and even a bit frightening. Grief is physical as well as emotional; a person’s stress hormones level increase and sleeping and eating patterns are disrupted. Exploring resources about the common experiences during times of loss can help you recognize which experiences are typical, and when it would be wise to get more help from a support group or counsellor.
Seek and Accept Support
Philosophers, physiologists, and scientists all agree on the value and importance of mourning with others. Accept a home-cooked meal or visit with a friend. Join a grief support group or speak to a counselor. Don’t be afraid to ask for the specific things that will best support you.
How To Support a Grieving Friend
When we don’t know what to say, we sometimes end up saying nothing. Everyone can feel awkward during these situations, but being present, even if you are speechless, is important. Here are some tips on how to offer support:
- Respond to requests. If they want to speak about their loved one, let them do so. If they want to vent, just listen with compassion rather than advice or suggestions.
- Don’t gloss over or minimize the experience with clichés. Confirm the depth of their grief.
- Offer practical and specific support (give them a lift, walk the dog, or bring them lunch). If you offer something specific, they’ll be much more likely to take you up on it.
- Be aware of difficult times, like anniversaries and holidays, and make yourself available.
- Find and offer information on resources, like support groups, or counselling options.
If you or someone you know is struggling with grief or loss of a loved one, please remember that Unison provides a counselling hotline 24/7 to all Canadian music professionals. A counselor can provide you with more suggestions in dealing with a specific situation.
Simply register online and call the hotline at
Unison’s Assistance Programs are always free and completely confidential. All services are provided by Shepell.fgi
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