Category

Grief/Loss

Kid-Friendly Holiday Remembrance Ideas

By Christmas, Exclude from Top Posts, Grief/Loss, Seasonal

After losing a loved one, the holidays can be very difficult for both kids and adults. You and your family may not feel up to all of the Christmas cheer and seasonal festivities, and that’s okay. You need to figure out what’s right for you this year and do that. But no matter what you decide to do, if you have kids who are grieving, consider how you can help them remember the person they love this season through remembrance activities and express what they may be feeling.

Just like you, kids need to be able to express what they feel, and oftentimes, they need a little help. Because they are still developing, they may not always be able to name their feelings as precisely as an adult. That’s why it’s so helpful to provide them with activities and exercises that will help them express what’s on the inside. And who knows? Something you begin this year may become a beloved holiday tradition for years to come.

Here are a few kid-friendly holiday remembrance ideas to get you started:

Put out a Memory Stocking

With a memory stocking or box, the whole family can write down memories or thoughts, share words of love and remembrance, or draw pictures of a favorite memory and then place them in the stocking/box. Then, at some point during the holidays, you can all sit down together and read the notes and spend time honoring your loved one’s memory. Whether you hang an extra stocking, place a memory box in a special place, or dedicate a miniature Christmas tree to notes and photos, the kids can get involved and express what they are thinking, feeling, and missing about the person who has died.

Light a Candle

Candles have long been used to as a symbol for remembrance. Keeping the light burning signifies that the memory of a loved one still shines bright. This Christmas season, consider lighting a candle in honor of the person you’ve lost. You can place the candle in a special place and take turns lighting the candle through the season. This way, everyone has a chance to actively remember the person who has died.

Visit the Graveside

Permanent memorials – like grave markers and plaques – give mourners a place to go to feel close to a loved one who has died. Consider whether a trip to the grave might be appropriate for your family. You can bring a wreath, a poinsettia, notes, drawings, or another meaningful item to leave behind as a token of your love.

If your loved one selected cremation and they were not buried, visit the place where their ashes were released or a place that is particularly meaningful to you. It doesn’t really matter where you go, so long as it’s a place where you feel a sense of closeness and kinship to the person who has died.

Release a Balloon

For this simple idea, all you need are biodegradable balloons and a sharpie. Blow up the balloons, have each person write a special message on their balloon, and then, release them to the sky. This practice is actually more meaningful than you might think, and it’s an easy way to get everyone involved. But remember – get biodegradable balloons that are friendly to the environment.

Enjoy Your Loved One’s Holiday Favorites

Whether it’s watching their favorite Christmas movie, making their signature dish, listening to their Christmas tunes, or driving around to see the best Christmas lights, take time to enjoy some of your loved one’s favorite traditions. Depending on where you are in the grief journey, this may be difficult, so consider what’s best for your family right now.

Just remember – not everyone grieves the same way. While watching that favorite movie might be painful for you, it could be just what your child needs to feel close to the person you’ve lost. Sit down with your kids and decide together which holiday favorites to keep and which to pass on this year.

Create a Holiday Memorial Keepsake

Another option is to sit down with your kids and create a holiday memorial keepsake together. This could be an ornament that they can pull out each year. Or a holiday throw pillow made from your loved one’s clothing. Or a scrapbook filled with holiday memories from years past. No matter what makes sense for your family, you can create a keepsake to bring out every year as a remembrance token. Over time, it will become a sweet piece of your holiday tradition and remind you of the person you love.

Look at Photos Together

Human beings are often very visual beings, and we associate memories with images and items. Sometime this Christmas season, take time to sit down with your little ones and go through family photos. Tell them the stories behind the photos.

Through this activity, you express your own feelings and memories while also helping your children build a more complete picture of the person who has died. Because a child may not have had time to develop a long-term, deep relationship with the person who has died, they will rely on your memories (to a degree) to help them process their own feelings.

Make a Memory Chain

For this activity, cut long, narrow strips of paper in your favorite holiday colors. Then, sit down with your kids to write on the paper. You could write so many things:

  • Favorite holiday memories
  • What you feel right now
  • Things you miss about your lost loved one
  • How you felt about your loved one

Then, you can create an interlinking chain to put on the tree, in a doorway, or across the fireplace mantel.

You can do all or none of these remembrance ideas. These are simply suggestions to get you started. No matter what you decide is right for you and your family this year, look for ways to strike the balance between the joy of the season and your feelings of grief. This year isn’t going to look like all the others – that’s for certain – but it can still be sweet and memorable. Don’t pretend that nothing has changed. It has. Instead, find ways to acknowledge that life is different while still allowing your family to find a little joy in the Christmas season.

How to Create a Memorial Page on Facebook and Instagram

By Estate Planning, Grief/Loss, Memorial

More and more, people across the globe are cultivating a social media presence. Some put more effort into it than others, but for many of us, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are a normal part of life. But what happens to these online profiles when someone dies? Today, let’s talk about the ins and outs of creating a memorial page on Facebook and Instagram.

The Importance of Digital Estate Planning

You may associate estate planning with a will or power of attorney, but digital estate planning is an important, often overlooked part of estate planning. It’s just as valuable to provide instructions for online accounts, digital assets, and social media profiles as it is to write down your wishes for physical holdings. To learn more about digital estate planning, take a moment to read Managing your Digital Estate and How to Make Digital Estate Planning Simple.

Now, let’s move on to Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook Memorial Page

Option 1: Creating a Memorial Page on Facebook

With Facebook, you have two options after death: delete the account or create a memorial page. Thankfully, Facebook has clear-cut instructions on how to do both of these things.

The most common reason to turn a Facebook page into a memorial is to create a place where family, friends, co-workers, and even acquaintances can process grief together and offer condolences to surviving family members. People can post memories, offer words of encouragement and sympathy, share photos, and more. Let’s start by going over a few pieces of key information!

Was a Legacy Contact chosen?

With Facebook, estate planning means designating a Legacy Contact. In other words, you tell Facebook who should manage your account after your death (often a spouse, close friend, or family member). The Legacy Contact can monitor your profile by deleting or memorializing the account, accepting friend requests, pinning tribute posts, updating profile and cover photos, and more. However, a Legacy Contact cannot log in to the account to view private messages or remove past posts, photos, or friends.

Currently, you can only add a Facebook friend as a Legacy Contact. When you select a Legacy Contact, Facebook gives you the option to notify that person right away, which is recommended so that person is in the know about your wishes. To learn how to add a Legacy Contact, go to How Do I Add, Change, or Remove a Legacy Contact?

On the other hand, if you’ve been added as a Legacy Contact to someone’s account and aren’t sure how to manage a memorialized Facebook page, go to How Do I Manage a Memorialized Profile on Facebook? for some helpful tips.

What if there is no designated Legacy Contact?

That’s okay. Family members can simply reach out to Facebook directly with a request to memorialize the account. However, memorialized accounts with no Legacy Contact can’t be changed in any way. To request that an account without a Legacy Contact be memorialized, go to the Memorialization Request.

What happens when you memorialize a Facebook page?

Memorialization locks the account and prevents anyone from logging in. While a Legacy Contact can’t log in to the account anymore, they can still make decisions on basic functions, like viewing posts, removing tags, updating profile and cover images, etc.

Additionally, a memorialized account will no longer appear in “search” results. However, any existing friends can still view the page and share photos, memories, and wall messages. The word “Remembering” will appear next to the deceased person’s name on their profile.

For a full list of links to helpful information, go to All You Need to Know about Facebook Memorialized Accounts.

Option 2: Deleting a Facebook Account

Alternatively, you can choose to have an account deleted instead. Keep in mind, if/when Facebook learns of a death, their policy is to memorialize the account if no instructions were left behind (i.e. no Legacy Contact and no request to delete the account).

If you are completing your own digital estate planning and want your account permanently deleted after your passing, go to Settings. Click Manage Account. Scroll down until you see Request that your account be deleted after you pass away and follow the prompts.

If you would like to delete the Facebook account of a deceased family member, you can reach out to Facebook directly. To learn more about the process and the required documentation, click here. Once you have your documentation gathered together, you can use the Special Request Form to begin the process of deleting the account. Please be aware, Facebook cannot provide you with login information for someone else’s account even after a death has occurred, but they can either delete or memorialize the account.

That’s it for Facebook – let’s move on to Instagram.

Instagram Memorial Page

While Instagram has been working on its memorial options for a while, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated their efforts. Now, similar to Facebook, you can either memorialize or delete an Instagram account.

Option 1: Creating a Memorial Page on Instagram

While Instagram now offers the ability to memorialize accounts, they do not currently allow you to designate a digital heir (Facebook calls this person a Legacy Contact). However, with the proper documentation, you can memorialize a loved one’s Instagram account after their death.

What are the key features of a memorialized Instagram account?

With a memorialized account:

  • The account locks and no one can log in.
  • The word “Remembering” appears on the person’s profile.
  • Any posts the deceased shared prior to death will stay visible.
  • You can no longer make changes to photos, videos, comments, privacy settings, or the current profile picture. Also, followers and the pages the deceased was following cannot be changed.

However, if you feel a comment or post on a memorialized profile violates Instagram’s Community Guidelines or Terms of Use, you can report it to Instagram by going to How to Report a Comment or How to Report a Post.

How do you memorialize an Instagram account?

The first step is to put in a request. When Instagram receives a valid request (regardless of whom that request is from), they will memorialize the account. To ensure that the request is valid, you must provide proof of death, such as an obituary or a news article. Just like Facebook, Instagram will not give out login information.

With a validated request, Instagram will memorialize the account. To submit a request to memorialize an account, go to the Request to Memorialize and fill it out.

Option 2: Removing an Instagram Account

The second option is to remove/delete the account. To entirely remove an account from Instagram, the requester must provide evidence that they are an immediate family member of the deceased.

Accepted forms of proof that you are an immediate family member are:

  • The deceased person’s birth certificate
  • The deceased person’s death certificate
  • Proof of authority under local law that you represent the deceased person

To request the removal of an Instagram account, you must complete the Removal Request and submit the required documentation.

Thankfully, both Facebook and Instagram have made the process simple and clear. Now that you know more about how to memorialize or delete accounts, take some time to carefully consider the best way to move forward. Every person is different, so decide what’s best for you and your family and do that. It may mean memorializing a lost loved one’s account so that friends and family can share memories and photos. It may mean removing the account entirely because it’s too painful to manage. There’s no right or wrong answer – just what makes the most sense for your needs.

What is Disenfranchised Grief?

By Grief/Loss

You are likely familiar with feelings of grief, but did you know that there are different forms of grief? Of course, the experience of grief is different from person to person, but sometimes “normal grief” can take a turn and become something a little different. The four most common variations are disenfranchised grief, complicated grief, compounded grief, and anticipatory grief. Today, let’s unpack disenfranchised grief and the impact it has on grieving people the world over.

First, What is Normal Grief?

Before we dive into disenfranchised grief, it’s important that you understand what normal grief is. In short, grief is your natural human response to the loss of someone or something you love. The emotions of grief vary greatly – sadness, anger, guilt, relief, shock – but they are all normal responses to loss. As much as you may prefer not to feel or deal with these types of emotions, they are actually a healthy part of the grieving process.

Grief is often accompanied by age-old rituals that bring people together to grieve. We hold hands, offer words of support and love, send cards and flowers, make donations, and deliver hot meals to the grieving family. We stand together to support those who are grieving and give them emotional and physical support as they mourn. But what if your grief was unacknowledged, no one stopped to listen to you, and there were no sympathetic words?

Enter Disenfranchised Grief

First coined by Dr. Kenneth Doka, “disenfranchised grief” is complicated, but put in the simplest terms, it is grief that cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned, or publicly mourned. Often, the grief is minimized or not understood (either by yourself or society in general or even within a family, friend group, or culture). This element of misunderstanding only further complicates the issue.

When your feelings of grief aren’t acknowledged or are minimized, you may begin to feel that your grief is inappropriate, invalid, or unacceptable in some way. And naturally, when you feel that your emotions are shameful, you are less likely to share what you’re feeling but will instead internalize it. Disenfranchised grief is often lonely, private, and you may feel that there must be something wrong with you for feeling this way.

On top of that, disenfranchised grief isn’t black and white; it’s very subjective. Two people may experience the exact same loss, but for one, the loss is openly acknowledged and mourned while for the other, it is minimized. Though they experienced the same loss, for one of them, it was disenfranchised.

To help you get a better grip on this concept, disenfranchised grief typically falls into three buckets. At times, a loss may fall into more than one bucket.

# 1 – The Relationship is Unrecognized

The first bucket is that your relationship to the person who has died is unrecognized. Perhaps the relationship was private or estranged or you are grieving someone you didn’t personally know. In this situation, your loss may not be recognized or understood by others. In some cases, your relationship to the deceased may even be a source of contention and pain to close family members.

With these factors in place, you may feel unable to mourn in the usual way and could end up internalizing the pain because you have no external outlet. When a relationship isn’t recognized, you may not be viewed as a griever so people don’t see or understand the depth of your feeling. A few examples of this are the death of an ex-spouse, estranged relative or friend, celebrity, public figure, or a relationship you kept private.

#2 – The Loss is Unacknowledged or Deemed Less Significant

By far, many forms of disenfranchised grief fall into this bucket. When a loss is unacknowledged (as is the case with many miscarriages) or is deemed less significant (like the loss of a pet), then it falls into disenfranchised grief. Oftentimes, these losses don’t fall into a group’s accepted definition of grief.

Also, disenfranchised grief is fairly subjective. Society may accept your loss as worthy of grief, but your family may not. When your grief is found unacceptable by someone, or even uncomfortable, it may hinder your ability to grieve well and openly, which could cause deep and lasting distress. Some examples of when a loss is unacknowledged or deemed less significant are:

  • Miscarriage (or stillbirth, infertility, or a traumatic birth experience)
  • Breakups
  • Estrangements
  • Job loss
  • Pet loss
  • Divorce
  • Death of an adult sibling, step-child or step-sibling, or an unmarried partner
  • Grieving the loss of a foster family member
  • Loss of possessions or home (i.e. in a fire, natural disaster, etc.)
  • Death of a co-worker
  • Death of a celebrity
  • Deterioration of one’s health

Often, the loss is something people don’t know how to talk about, so it’s generally unacknowledged or avoided (miscarriage is a perfect example) unless you find someone who has gone through the same type of loss. Other times, the loss surrounds something that people don’t think is as significant as other forms of loss. For instance, “Why are you grieving the loss of your stuff when people died in that natural disaster?” Yes, it’s the loss of material possessions, but it’s still a loss of comfort, peace, memories, and perhaps of home and livelihood. That’s significant and valid. Feeling grief over the loss of possessions doesn’t mean you don’t mourn the loss of the people – you can feel both at the same time.

#3 – Stigma Surrounds the Loss

The final bucket relates to losses that are surrounded by stigma in some way, often stemming from the method of death. You feel unable to fully grieve because of the circumstances of the loss. A few examples include suicide, drug overdose, AIDS, murder, or the driver in a drunk driving incident. It could also be grieving someone who is incarcerated, missing, dealing with a mental illness, or who has run away.

The loss could also be stigmatized because the relationship before the loss was not recognized. For example, the death of an ex-spouse could be doubly disenfranchised because the relationship is unrecognized and may also be stigmatized, especially if things are still unresolved between the two parties and their families.

Overall, disenfranchised grief means that what you’re feeling isn’t accepted by someone you deem important. This could be society as a whole, family, friends, or even yourself. After all, you can convince yourself that you have no right to grieve this loss. Unfortunately, that attitude won’t stop the feelings or help you work through them. You may feel judged or criticized by others for your grief, making you feel alone, embarrassed or ashamed. So, what can you do?

Three Suggestions to Help You Move Toward Healing

First of all, if you are going through disenfranchised grief right now, you’re not alone and your grief is valid. You have nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Grief is a natural response to the losses in our lives – no matter what form that loss takes. Now, let’s talk about three suggestions for moving toward healing as you work through your disenfranchised grief.

Validate the Loss Within Yourself

While it’s helpful to have others validate your feelings, it’s not necessary to move toward healing. The most important thing is for you to realize – within yourself – that your feelings of grief are real and legitimate. It’s okay if the people around you don’t fully understand. The most important person to validate your loss is you. Work toward acknowledging that you feel what you feel and it’s all part of the grief journey.

An important note – the grief that children feel is often overlooked or unacknowledged, so take extra effort to listen, validate their feelings, and offer support to the children in your life who are grieving.

Find Supportive People

As you work toward fully realizing and accepting that your loss is valid and worth grieving, find supportive people to talk to and do life with. You need people who won’t minimize your feelings but will accept and support you wherever you are on the grief journey. You might start with an understanding close friend or family member. Additionally, consider sitting down with a support group or a therapist. Sometimes, you just need to talk with people who understand what you’re feeling and can help you identify it. Once you’ve named your emotions, you can better communicate your feelings to the other people in your life.

If you’ve been dealing with disenfranchised grief for a while, then you might strongly consider talking with a grief counselor or therapist. They can help you understand your feelings, realize that it’s okay to grieve, offer a safe place to express yourself, and provide resources that will help you move toward healing.

Participate in Healing Rituals

Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a nationally recognized grief counselor, author, and educator, often says “When words are inadequate, have a ritual.” Normally, when we lose a person we love, we have a funeral or memorial service to honor and remember them. However, with disenfranchised grief, you may not have the opportunity to attend a funeral. And if you’ve lost something else, a funeral isn’t feasible. However, the principle remains the same – you can participate in healing rituals to help you engage with your feelings and begin to release them in a healthy way.

While there may not be an official ritual available, you can create your own. Box up your ex’s belongings to symbolize that the relationship is over. Write a letter to say all the things you left unsaid. Light a candle or plant a tree in memory of the person. Make a collage of photos. If you’ve lost your home, write down memories you cherish from that time of your life and reminisce. Hold your own memorial. Create a memory box or book with mementos and reminders. Visit the final resting place. Use your creativity to process through your feelings. And the list goes on. Find a ritual that speaks to your needs and do it.

Processing grief is hard work, but it’s so important to your quality of life moving forward. Unaddressed grief can lead to many debilitating concerns, including depression and mood swings. Instead of listening to those who might try to minimize your grief, take time to listen to your feelings, surround yourself with supportive people, and find a way to participate in healing rituals. Whatever grief you’re feeling, no matter what kind of loss you’ve been through, it’s real, it’s legitimate, and you have a right to grieve and find hope for the future.

5 Powerful TED Talks about Grief and End-of-Life Wishes

By Grief/Loss, Plan Ahead

Planning for end-of-life wishes and walking through grief can both be very difficult seasons in life. But you don’t have to walk through them alone. Others have gone before us who aren’t afraid to discuss their ups and downs through the journey. In these 5 powerful TED talks, each speaker shares part of their own personal journey with grief and the lessons they learned and wisdom they gained as a result. As they bare their hearts and share their stories, may you find comfort and peace but also the inspiration to grow in the way you think, feel, and process grief and death.

5 Powerful TED Talks About Grief and End-of-Life Wishes

The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage (Susan David)

When faced with loss and the difficult seasons of life, our emotions can sometimes feel like a hindrance rather than a help. In her powerful presentation, Susan David discusses the value of emotions while also emphasizing the importance of resilience and emotional dexterity. In this deeply moving, at times humorous, talk, she discusses the passing of her father and how that event catapulted her into learning how to recognize and acknowledge emotions while also working toward accepting and processing them in a healthy way.

We Don’t “Move On” from Grief – We Move Forward with It (Nora McInerny)

Following the loss of a loved one, many of us may have heard the words, “It’s time to move on.” While the person may have had good intentions, these words aren’t necessarily helpful. In this TED talk, Nora McInerny shares her own personal grief story and candidly discusses what we often think and what we’d like to say when other people say the wrong thing during times of grief. In her own words, she encourages her listeners to remember that “A grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again. They’re going to move forward. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve moved on.”

The Journey through Loss and Grief (Jason Rosenthal)

Losing a loved one is never easy. In this brutally honest, at times sweetly funny, and yet heart-wrenching story, Jason Rosenthal discusses the difficulties of caring for a dying loved one through hospice. Before she died, Jason’s wife, Amy, wrote a widely read article giving her husband permission to move on and find happiness. In this talk, given just one year after her death, Jason shares candid insights into the process of grieving and offers heartfelt wisdom for anyone experiencing life-changing grief.

What Makes Life Worth Living in the Face of Death (Lucy Kalanithi)

Even in the face of death, life is precious and worth living. That’s what Lucy Kalanithi and her husband, Paul, found as they faced his terminal diagnosis. In her dually-focused talk, Lucy shares about her end-of-life journey with Paul while also advocating for people to pursue medical care that best fits their personal values. In the end, she says that both she and Paul learned that, “Engaging in the full range of experience — living and dying, love and loss — is what we get to do. Being human doesn’t happen despite suffering — it happens within it.”

Talk About Your Death while You’re Still Healthy (Michelle Knox)

In general, we avoid talking about death and all the trappings that come with it. But is that really the best approach? In this straightforward yet heartfelt talk, Australian Michelle Knox explores a topic most of us avidly avoid: death. She asks us to reflect on our core values and intentionally share them with our loved ones. That way, when we are gone, our surviving family members can make informed decisions without fearing that they have failed to honor our legacy.

DISCLAIMER: Individual circumstances and state laws vary, so any estate planning should only be undertaken with the help and assistance of an attorney licensed in your state. 

4 Ways Visiting a Loved One’s Grave Can Help You Grieve

By Grief/Loss, Memorial

Losing a loved one can cause our entire world to start spinning. For some of us, the spinning doesn’t completely stop for a while. One loss may take a year to process while another loss may take ten years before the person feels ready to move forward. Both of these scenarios are normal – they are just different. As we deal with our whirling emotions, we need a way to bring ourselves back to reality. In other words, we need something that will ground us and give us peace at the same time. One way we can accomplish this is by visiting a loved one’s final resting place.

4 Ways Visiting a Loved One’s Grave Can Help You Grieve

Dr. Alan Wolfelt, respected grief expert, author, and counselor, says, “I have learned that we cannot go around the pain of our grief. Instead, we must learn to embrace and express it. This is hard but absolutely necessary work.” So, how does visiting the graveside help us do the work of grief?

Provides a place of connection

For some, a loved one’s final resting place is a cemetery. For others, particularly those whose loved one was cremated, a final resting place may be a body of water, a park, or some other special place. No matter where that place may be, going there may help you feel more connected to the person you love. Knowing that you are where they are, or you are in a place special to them, brings a sense of connectedness and closeness that may be less achievable in other places.

Provides a time for solitude, contemplation, or prayer

After losing a loved one, you may be feeling a lot of emotions. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to sit in quiet and take time to think or to pray. If you are someone who journals, take a notebook to the cemetery with you and simply write out what you’re thinking and feeling. Being so close to your loved one may help you sincerely express what’s in your heart and on your mind.

Provides an opportunity to talk to your loved one

What wouldn’t we give for just one more conversation with a loved one? While you may not hear their answers, you can still talk to a lost loved one. You’ve seen it in movies and on TV – it’s a real thing. People want to feel a sense of connection. They want to talk to the person they’ve lost. What do they do? They go to the cemetery and have the conversation they need to have. It’s normal, natural, and a meaningful way to grieve. So, if you want to have that conversation, go do it. You’ll feel better.

Provides a comforting tradition

For many people, visiting a loved one’s grave becomes part of a comforting tradition. They bring flowers or mementoes on special days, like birthdays or holidays. They spend time talking to their loved one, updating them on the grandkids, the new house, or whatever else they want. At first, the tradition may be sad, but over time, visiting the grave becomes a joyful and peace-filled ritual that brings comfort and keeps a loved one’s memory alive and strong.

What Can You Do at the Graveside?

You can tailor your visit to your own and your family’s needs. There’s really no wrong way to go about this. However, to give you a start, here are a few thoughts to consider.

  • Bring a bouquet of flowers to leave
  • Place a favorite photo at the grave
  • Decorate the grave (i.e. for Christmas or a birthday)
  • Walk and/or kneel and pray or meditate
  • Talk to your loved one, sharing your plans for the future or reflecting on the past
  • If you came with family members or friends, share memories
  • If there’s a bench nearby, sit down and eat a picnic lunch or simply take in your surroundings

A Few Etiquette Tips

No matter what you decide to do, make sure to act respectfully at the cemetery. A few tips:

  • Familiarize yourself with any posted cemetery rules
  • Leash your pets (and clean up after them)
  • Drive slowly and be alert
  • Respect the graves of others
  • Be respectful of funeral services and other mourners
  • Clean up after yourself and others

As you grieve the loss of a loved one, consider the power of connection and reflection a visit to your loved one’s final resting place can bring. If nothing else, give it a try at least once to see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t, but at least you’ll know. As you look for what’s right for you on your grief journey, may you find peace and comfort as you grieve your loved one and find a way to move forward.

Supporting a Friend Dealing with Suicide Loss

By Grief/Loss, Loss from Suicide

Any loss takes a toll on us emotionally, mentally, and physically. However, losing a loved one to suicide carries an extra level of challenge and confusion. Not only are suicide loss survivors processing the death of their loved one, they are also grappling with questions they may never have the answers to. Why did this happen? Could I have done something to prevent it?

If you know someone who is dealing with the loss of a loved one to suicide, they need your compassion and support more than anything else. You may not feel you are the most qualified person to help your friend, but you can do small things to help as they process their pain and walk down the path toward healing. Let’s review a few simple tips.

1. Listen attentively

First of all, be a safe place. Anyone dealing with suicide loss is processing many conflicting emotions and troubling questions. If they want to talk, be an attentive and caring listener. Also, let them decide what to share and when. Even if you have also lost someone to suicide, don’t assume that your friend’s grief is like yours. No two grief journeys are the same because no two people are the same. Instead, listen without judgment. Or, if they aren’t ready to talk, be patient and ask simple questions about how they are doing. Your questions about their welfare may open up a door to talk. If not, simply move the conversation to other topics.

2. Don’t ask for explanations or details

Stay away from asking too many questions. Your friend may feel like you are more interested in the gossipy details than you are in their welfare. Plus, your friend may be grappling with the same questions themselves, and your questions only emphasize just how little they actually know. Instead, focus on supporting them and listening to what they have to say about their loved one and the feelings they are dealing with. In time, you may learn all the information you’re curious about, but in the beginning, focus on just being a friend.

3. Be sensitive

Words are powerful. What we say has the power to build others up, tear them down, make them feel important, or make them pull away from us. So, as you talk and interact with your friend, be sensitive. That means, don’t try to fix things or brush over their difficult emotions. Don’t try to share in “troubles talk” by comparing your grief experiences to theirs. Instead, consider your words carefully. Ask yourself, “Would I find these words helpful?” If not, don’t say them and find other ways to offer support and love. For a few suggestions on what NOT to say, click here.

4. Make them feel comfortable

As mentioned earlier, be a safe place for your grieving friend. They may feel pressure, both internally and externally, to hide what happened. Suicide loss survivors often deal with a certain stigma from society and may feel alone or isolated. Your role as a friend is to make them feel comfortable, loved, valuable, and heard. Assure them that you want to hear what’s on their heart and mind. Make it known that you don’t think any differently of them and simply want to be there to love and support them through their grief journey.

5. Help them honor their loved one’s memory

More often than not, suicide comes after a long mental health battle, most commonly depression. It’s always important to remember that our loved ones are more than the way they died. Taking time to remember them and honor their life is an important part of the grieving process. So, share memories and stories with your friend that include their lost loved one. Use their loved one’s first name. Encourage your friend to write a letter to say all the things they didn’t get to say. Watch their loved one’s favorite movie, look at photos, or plant a memorial tree. Every life is worth remembering, no matter how it came to an end.

6. Stay close

Losing a family member to suicide is often especially devastating. While any kind of death may be difficult to bear, suicide can haunt survivors. In fact, research tells us that those who lose a loved one to suicide are more likely to commit suicide themselves. However, those who received support and didn’t feel so stigmatized after their loss were at far less risk. So, make sure to stay close and be consistent with your love and support. They don’t need you just this week or this month – they need you long term. Allow them to talk about their grief whenever they feel the need and assure them that their emotions are valid and important.

Note: If you notice that your friend is struggling with their grief on a much deeper level, encourage them to see a grief counselor or therapist who can help them work through these complex emotions. Some things are beyond your capabilities, and it’s okay to seek help.

7. Offer to help

Grief is exhausting and throws off our established routine. So, to help your friend get the rest they need, offer to help with the practical things. Run errands, provide rides to appointments, pick up the kids from school, or walk the dog. Look for ways to help and ask, “Can I watch the kids tomorrow afternoon so you can rest?” After you’ve helped with a few tasks, try asking them directly how you can help. Since you’ve already established that you want to help, they will be more likely to tell you what they need. Each of these tasks may seem small, but to someone who is grieving, your actions mean support, friendship, and kindness.

Now that you have a few simple tips, go out there and support your grieving friends. We aren’t meant to walk through life alone. We need each other, through the good times and bad. As we support each other, we spread kindness and love to those who matter the most to us.

How to Make Up for the Loss of Human Touch During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By COVID-19, Grief/Loss

My first grandchild was born in early 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic was gaining momentum. I got a social-distancing, several-feet-away peek at him early on, but then we were kept apart for three long months out of an abundance of caution that his mom (my daughter), 60-something me, and the healthy-but-vulnerable newborn all stayed safe.

As the shelter-in-place weeks slogged by, I found myself more and more impatient to hold the little guy. I wanted to touch his tiny fingers, nuzzle his rose-petal cheeks, and snuggle up with him for a long, cozy bonding session.

And I wasn’t only craving the touch of my grandson. I found myself missing sitting close to friends and loved ones, sharing kisses and shoulder squeezes, hugs and handshakes. Like so many people the world over, I was becoming touch deprived. Even those of us who don’t consider ourselves huggy, touchy people are realizing that we need the physical proximity and touch of other human beings to feel well, especially during times of uncertainty and anxiety.

(Photo courtesy of Dr. Alan Wolfelt)

The power of touch

As a longtime grief counselor and educator, I know that touch helps us feel loved and empathized with. After a significant loss, grieving people who are hugged, touched and visited often report feeling comforted and supported. They also experience that sense of connection that helps them continue to feel meaning and purpose in life.

Since touch is physical, it has bodily effects. When we are touched in comforting ways, our brains are flooded with dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. These feel-good hormones help regulate our mood and make us feel calmer and happier.

When we aren’t touched, on the other hand, our brains suffer from the lack of these chemicals. We may feel depressed, anxious and stressed. We might also have more trouble sleeping.

In addition, touch stimulates the vagus nerve, which branches throughout our entire bodies. Its role is to calm the nervous system, which in turn helps boost our immune systems and can lower our blood pressure and heart rate.

If you’ve been feeling depressed, anxious or stressed; if you’ve been having sleep issues; or if you’ve felt unwell physically, lack of physical touch may be the culprit.

Of course, even before COVID, our culture was becoming more and more socially distanced. Instead of face-to-face contact, we have increasingly relied on technology as a main form of interface. Texting, emailing and posting on social media have become the primary ways of “keeping in touch” — even though, ironically, they involve no touching at all.

The social distancing of the pandemic has only heightened our reliance on technology. We’re grateful, of course, for the electronic means of maintaining connection. Without them, we’d be truly disconnected and utterly separated. But at the same time, we’re realizing their limitations.

Our high-tech, low-touch lifestyles aren’t enough. We need and crave physical human contact. We are skin hungry. We are eye-contact empty. We are touch starved.

Tips for feeding your touch starvation

Tell your family and friends about your need for touch. If you’re sheltering in place with others, talk to them about touch starvation and how you’re feeling. Maybe your roommates are craving touch as well. Depending on your relationships, hugs, shoulder rubs, scalp massages, back scratches, foot rubs, and handholding are possible outlets.

If you’ve been isolated and need a hug, meet up outdoors with loved ones. Then, masks on, share some safe embraces. A 20-second hug is the threshold for alleviating stress and helping you feel calm and safe. Even without hugs, simply gathering outdoors to chat and have distanced face-to-face eye contact for an hour or two can make a big difference.

If you can’t be near your loved ones right now, use video calls as the next best thing. Faces and voices help us feel close and “read” one other. On the calls, tell people how much you care about and miss them. You’ll find that speaking your love out loud releases the same feel-good chemicals that touch does.

Cuddle with your pets. Touch them in the ways they like being touched.

When it’s safe to do so again, consider making an appointment for a massage. Other options: manicure, haircut, or a healing touch or reiki session.

Self-massage also releases feel-good chemicals. Giving yourself an arm rub by rolling a tennis ball up and down your arms a few times a day, or use a foam roller to give yourself a back rub.

Use a weighted blanket when you watch TV or sleep. These 15- to 25-pound blankets press down on the skin, which triggers vagus nerve activity. Choose one that’s about ten percent of your body weight.

Practice yoga. Yoga poses place pressure on lots of different parts of your body, essentially touching you all over.

I’m happy to share that I finally got to hold my grandbaby recently. He’s already a grinning, wriggly three-month-old, and boy did it feel amazing to have in my arms. With my new appreciation for touch starvation, I’m planning on lots of hugs and kisses in the months and years to come.

About the Author

Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., is an author, educator, and grief counselor. He serves as Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition and is on the faculty of the University of Colorado Medical School’s Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Wolfelt has written many bestselling books on coping with grief, including Grief One Day at a Time and First Aid for Broken Hearts. Visit www.centerforloss.com to learn more about grief and loss.

Reprinted with permission of Dr. Alan Wolfelt.

Creating Memorial Keepsakes from a Loved One’s Clothing

By Grief/Loss, Memorial

When we lose a loved one, it’s often difficult to think about parting with their belongings. After all, objects hold memories, stories, and special meaning. While it’s important to sort through your loved one’s possessions and thoughtfully decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to trash, you might also consider making memorial keepsakes from their clothing.

A memorial keepsake may be part of a healthy grief journey for you. A way to honor your grief through creative expression. The keepsake may be long lasting, or it may have a shorter term of use. It may be something you keep for yourself or share with others who are grieving or had a relationship with the person who is gone. The choice is entirely up to you and your wishes.

Creating Memorial Keepsakes from Clothing

Most of our loved ones had multiple changes of clothing so that means you have a lot of material to work with as you create (or commission) memorial keepsakes. Because there’s so much fabric, you could have one keepsake for yourself and an entirely different kind for a relative. This diversity is helpful because you and your family members may value different things. So, let’s get started and discuss some of the options available as you consider whether or not to create a meaningful keepsake from a loved one’s clothing.

Quilt

You can make a beautiful and unique quilt using a loved one’s clothing. You might use smaller pieces and go for a patchwork look. Or, you can use t-shirts to create a quilt that reflects your loved one’s unique style. The style and design are entirely up to you, but just imagine curling up under the quilt on the cold nights and feeling surrounded by love. If you don’t have the skills necessary to make the quilt yourself, there are many websites and services available to commission an expert to create the keepsake for you.

Memory Bear

While many memory animals are bears, you can pick any animal you like. Essentially, using a loved one’s shirt, you make the casing of the animal and then stuff it. If you aren’t comfortable with your level of skill, find a YouTube tutorial, ask a friend who sews to help you, or commission an expert to make it for you. Memory stuffed animals are especially helpful for children and can remain special for years to come.

Ornaments

For those who like to collect Christmas ornaments or call Christmas their favorite holiday, you might consider using fabric from a loved one’s clothing to make ornaments. There are so many ways to do this that all you need to do is pick your favorite and go for it. You could do a folded fabric ornament, a no-sew “quilted” ornament, a Christmas tree ornament, and so much more. Then, every year as you decorate your tree, you will have an ornament to represent the person you love.

Table Runner

If you want to create multiple pieces, a table runner might be an excellent choice for the extra scrap pieces of fabric. You could use neckties or even dresses. Then, when you have a family dinner or your loved one’s birthday comes around, you can pull out your memorial table runner and honor their memory even as you make new ones. If you prefer a table topper, that would work perfectly, too!

Placemats and Napkins

Similar to the table runner, you could also make placemats and napkins. Whether you use strips of leftover fabric or devote particular articles of clothing to the project, both placemats and napkins are a beautiful way to re-use clothing in a meaningful way. This way, every time you use them, your loved one’s memory lives on. You could even create a tradition that you tell a story about your loved one’s life every time you bring them out. If you like this idea, go online, find a pattern that appeals to you, and get started!

Keychains

As with all of these projects, the end product is entirely up to you. If you choose to make keychains or even key fobs, you can select the style and design to suit your tastes or the amount of fabric you have available. Keychains are small and make an excellent, easy-to-keep-track-of keepsake that you could share with the entire family.

Pillowcases

Whether you choose to make pillowcases for sleeping or for decoration, this project will allow you to make some beautiful creations that will bring peace on the hard days. For many of us, there’s something comforting about hugging a pillow tight. In those moments when you miss your loved one most, grab a memorial pillow and hug it close, taking time to dwell on your memories and keep your loved one’s memory alive.

Baby Clothes

A practical option for re-using a loved one’s clothing is to create baby clothes with them. Whether the clothes are for your own child or to give to a shelter or a family in need, there’s something special about knowing that your loved one’s clothing will shelter and warm a young, new life. Though your loved one’s life has come to an end, they can still make a difference in the lives of future generations.

Scarves and Other Apparel

Another idea for creating memorial keepsakes from a loved one’s clothing is to make scarves or other apparel (like jewelry). Every time you wear the scarf, you can feel close to your loved one, almost like they are wrapping you in their love. There are many simple ways to create scarves, jewelry, and other items, so do a little digging and find what works best for you.

Aprons and Other Kitchen Accessories

If your loved one was a whiz in the kitchen, then making aprons or other kitchen items (like potholders or oven mitts) might be a good option for you. Then, you can either keep them or share them with family. Either way, any time you use these practical items, you can take a moment to remember your loved one. You might even choose to wear your memorial apron when cooking your loved one’s favorite dishes or during the holidays, just to feel that extra sense of connection.

All of these projects (and any others you think of) will take time and commitment, but really, they can be as simple or complex as you like. Find the patterns and ideas that work best for you. And remember, if you simply aren’t comfortable with your level of skill, either ask a sewing friend for help or seek out a professional. So, rather than donating or simply throwing out a lost loved one’s clothes, consider whether they can do some good for the future. As memorial keepsakes, they just might help you as you continue to grieve and find a way to move forward.

10 Story Books on Grief for Children Ages 3-12

By Grief/Loss

There’s no denying that grief is taxing, difficult, and stressful, no matter your age. For children, grief can be particularly confusing because they haven’t emotionally and cognitively developed enough yet to examine and name their feelings. When they feel an emotion, it comes out in their facial expressions, their play, or their behavior (crying, acting out, etc.) because they don’t yet know how to identify and deal with their emotions in a healthy way. That’s where you – the parent or caregiver – come in. You can use books and story to help your child name their emotions and begin to process them.

Through storytelling, we can help our children identify their emotions, see themselves in others, and begin to understand complex situations. On top of that, reading books centered on certain topics – like grief – can open conversations that will allow you to talk to your child and educate them on important life topics.

Below we will review 10 different books for children ages 3-12 that focus on grief, loss, and death. These are certainly not the only books available, but they will give you a place to start. Let’s begin!

The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr (Ages 3-6)

Told from the point of view of a fish who has lost his companion, the book weaves a touching story of how to say goodbye. Touching on a wide range of emotions and responses to loss, Todd Parr gently reminds readers that it’s okay to not have all the answers and that you can rely on others to support you when you’re sad.

Click here to view the book.

“There are many little ways to enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy

I Miss You: A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas (Ages 4-7)

If you are looking for a more straightforward approach, Pat Thomas discusses grief and death in a simple, factual manner. Practical at its heart, the book shares reasons why people die, introduces the concept of a funeral, explores how to say goodbye, and assures children that it’s normal to feel sad after a loss. I Miss You will open opportunities for discussion with your child so you can help them understand the difficult topics of death and dying.

Click here to view the book.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst (Ages 4-8)

With more than half a million copies sold, this picture book has touched the hearts of readers, young and old alike. The Invisible String shares the story of two siblings who discover that there is an invisible string connecting them to their loved ones through life’s hardest situations. The book offers a simple approach to dealing with loneliness, separation, and loss while helping children explore deeper questions, such as how we are connected to each other through love and unbreakable bonds.

Click here to view the book.

Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” —Kate DiCamillo

Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola (Ages 4-8)

In his beloved and signature style, Tomie dePaola tells the story of four-year-old Tommy, his grandmother, and his great-grandmother. Through beautiful illustrations, dePaola explores the concepts of aging, compassion, loss, and taking care of our elderly loved ones. Perfect for children who have lost or are facing the loss of a grandparent, they can follow along with Tommy as he learns how to say goodbye.

Click here to view the book.

Ida, Always by Caron Levis (Ages 4-8)

Inspired by two real-life polar bears, this endearing tale is a moving depiction of loss and friendship. With its focus on long-term illness, the words and pictures blend together beautifully to create an unforgettable exploration of the complicated emotions associated with the death of a loved one. Simple, graceful, and gentle, Ida, Always will help you navigate through your child’s emotions and give them the chance to ask their questions in a healthy way.

Click here to view the book.

There is no substitute for books in the life of a child.” —May Ellen Chase

The Memory Box: A Book About Grief by Joanna Rowland (Ages 4-8)

Sometimes the best way to grieve is to remember. Told from the viewpoint of a young child who is afraid she might forget someone who has recently died, this comforting book shares the power of creating a memory box, filled with mementos and cherished moments, to grieve a loss. Whether the loss of a friend, family member, or pet, this book will help parents and their children discuss the complicated emotions of grief while also giving them a practical activity to help process death and loss.

Click here to view the book.

Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant (Ages 4-9)

For many children, the first loss they experience is the loss of pet. In both Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven, author Cynthia Rylant offers comfort and a look into what could be. Each picture book features bright, bold images to show a peaceful and happy heaven where dogs receive delicious biscuits, and cats never lack a soft angel lap for naps. Slightly unconventional in its depictions of God and heaven, the book has brought comfort to many families.

To view Dog Heaven, click here.

To view Cat Heaven, click here.

It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations—something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.” —Katherine Paterson

Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen (Ages 8+)

Filled with wisdom, comfort, and practical tips, Tear Soup focuses on assuring the reader that grief is natural and normal. Its pages address the different emotions a child may feel after loss. Additionally, the book offers a cooking tips section that is full of guidance and solid suggestions for processing grief. With this book, you and your child can navigate the grief journey together, giving you the opportunity to sensitively answer your child’s questions along the way.

Click here to view the book.

A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith (Ages 8-12)

Children in the 8-12 age range have most likely come into contact with grief in some way. It could be the loss of a friendship, the death of a pet or loved one, or some other life-changing event. At this age, children already have a foundation for loss. Even so, it’s good to bring in story and books to help them ask questions and process emotions.

In A Taste of Blackberries, the author follows the friendship of two young boys when something terrible happens. Honest and open, this book will be a conversation starter with your child. It will give you the opportunity to explore how we move forward in a healthy way after loss.

Click here to view the book.

Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything.” —Tomie dePaola

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Ages 8-12)

Another opportunity to learn through story, Bridge to Terabithia is a compelling tale of loss, friendship, and coming of age. Written by Newbery Medal-winning author Katherine Paterson, this children’s classic dives into the bonds of friendship and how people change us in positive ways, even if we only know them for a short time. Its encouragement to deal with grief in a healthy way and to rely on loving family for support will help your child learn how to deal with loss and lean on loved ones.

Click here to view the book.

Now that you have a place to get started, consider which books are most appropriate for your child. Read them, talk about them, and teach your child about grief, loss, and how to honor, remember, and celebrate the lives of those we have loved and lost.

Grief & the Six Needs of Mourning

By Grief/Loss

When we lose someone we love, we experience a wide range of complex and sometimes confusing feelings. These may include sadness, fear, anger, guilt, relief, and shock or disbelief. All of these emotions are normal reactions to loss, and they can vary greatly depending on the person and the type of loss. Having witnessed this spectrum of emotions through his years of walking with families through grief, Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a nationally respected grief counselor, author, and educator, has come to identify six needs of mourning. It is only after these six needs are met that we can move toward healing and reconciliation following a loss.

But what are the six needs of mourning, you ask?

The 6 Needs of Mourning

Everything begins with a meaningful, healing, and personalized funeral or memorial service. The more personal, the more healing. Dr. Wolfelt has found that those who take part in a meaningful service have a firm foundation for their grief journey and “through their own grief work and through the love and compassion of those around them, are most often able to reconcile their grief and go on to find continued meaning in life and living.”

People often mistakenly think of the funeral or memorial service as an act of closure. This isn’t the case. In fact, the service is only the beginning of your grief journey. The challenge ahead of you is to walk through each of the six needs of mourning along the way toward healing.

Let’s look at each need individually and discuss what each one may look like in your life.

Need #1 – Acknowledge the reality of the death

When we lose someone we love, our minds naturally rebel against the knowledge. We don’t want to believe what has happened. We reject reality. But in order to heal, we must confront the truth. So, in some way, you must come to acknowledge the reality of the death. This may mean spending time with the body before burial or cremation, attending the funeral or memorial service, visiting the graveside, or something as simple as intentionally using the past tense when speaking about the person. In time, your mind will accept the reality of what has happened, and you can begin to process through the emotions of loss.

Need #2 – Move toward the pain of the loss

Dr. Wolfelt says, “I have learned that if we are to heal we cannot skirt the outside edges of our grief.  Instead, we must journey all through it, sometimes meandering the side roads, sometimes plowing directly into its raw center.” While the funeral or memorial service gives you a start on confronting your loss, it’s up to you to continue the journey. And that’s what it is – a journey. It will take time. It will take intentionality.

Instead of turning away from what you feel, allow yourself to grieve and heal. This may mean talking to trusted friends about your loved one, writing in a grief journal, going for long walks and talking aloud to your loved one, crying in the dark of night, or venting your anger or frustration by going on strenuous runs or using a punching bag. We all deal with our emotions differently, but as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others, do what you must to face the pain and let the emotions out. Emotions that are stifled or allowed to fester will only lead to pain down the road, so deal with them now.

Need #3 – Remember the person who has died

In order to heal, we must shift our relationship with the one who has died from one of physical presence to one of memory. To do this, it’s important to actively find ways to remember the person who has died and to honor their legacy. In many ways, you do that by telling the story of your life with your loved one. According to Dr. Wolfelt, “the more we ‘tell the story’ the more likely we are to reconcile to the grief.”

So, be intentional about creating opportunities to share and to remember your loved one’s life. Bring friends and loved ones together for a shared remembrance meal. Don’t be afraid to share the stories of your life – growing up, in school, at work, at play, etc. Also, you might choose to create a memorial item, like a scrapbook, photo book, art piece, composition, or whatever else makes sense for you. As you create and design the memorial item, you engage with your memories and find comfort in them.

Need #4 – Develop a new self-identity

To some degree, our relationships give us an identity. Father, mother, sister, brother, friend, grandchild. You may have heard someone say, “I feel like a part of me died along with him.” This is because we gain some sense of identity from those around us. After losing someone we love, we have to step into a new identity, whether we want to or not.

Perhaps we move from a wife to a widow or from a grandchild with living grandparents to a grandchild without living grandparents. No matter the change, coming to grips with our new role – both in our family and in our other relationships – is an important part of the grieving process. In order to move forward with our lives, we must accept our new role and find a way to live it well.

Need #5 – Search for meaning

As part of the grief process, we naturally question the meaning of life and death. Why did this happen? Why now? What happens after death? The answers you find to these “why” questions will decide your reasons for living and contribute to your search for meaning. The death of a loved one confronts us with an inescapable fact: we will die. And because one day we, too, will face death, we must wrestle with how our lives look today. Ask yourself if there’s something you have always wanted to do or be known for. Have you done it? Why not? Is now the time to get started? Write down your thoughts, talk to friends or family, seek out ways to ask the hard questions, and if you do the work of grief, you will find the answers you need.

Need #6 – Receive ongoing support from others

Lastly, we need each other. We aren’t meant to go through life alone. The funeral or memorial service provides an excellent time to give and receive support, but you will still need support far beyond the ceremony. You may be tempted to work through these needs on your own – don’t. There are moments when time alone is needed, but also look for ways to invite others into your life. Find a group to support you – through church, school, or local support groups. The people around you can offer an incredible reserve of strength, kindness, and encouragement.

These are the six needs of mourning. You won’t necessarily experience them in any particular order. In fact, you may experience several at once. For example, you may sit down with a friend and receive support while also talking about your plans to make changes to your life. In this way, you are meeting needs #5 and #6. You will meet many of these needs quite naturally but still be intentional about facing your loss.

And remember – grief is a journey. There’s no hurry. No set time frame. Sometimes you can move forward after three months, sometimes three years, sometimes longer. The time it takes doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are working at it. You are looking for ways to reconcile yourself to what has happened and finding a way to move forward. Those who don’t find a way to move forward often become stuck in their grief, unable to move. Don’t allow yourself to become stuck – do the work of grief and find a way to continued meaning and new hope for the future. You can do this!