National Grief Awareness Day
August 30 of every year is recognized as National Grief Awareness Day. In a time of division in our world, this day reminds us that everyone on earth is connected/united by this thing called grief. Every person has or will experience loss for which they will grieve.
Perhaps we should define grief.
Grief is a multifaceted response to loss. It can be emotional and/or physiological. Grief is the natural reaction to loss. It is both a universal and completely personal experience.
All losses are acknowledged during National Grief Awareness Month and include but are not limited to…
Death of a loved one
Death of a pet
Divorce and/or separation
Loss of employment
Loss of identity
There is no right or wrong way to grieve. The way we experience grief is completely unique to us. Lots of things affect how we grieve. Things such as our personal experience with loss, what kind of support system we have and the nature of the relationship with had with the person or thing we are grieving will affect how we grieve.
In 2014, I experienced the death of my twin brother and my mother six weeks apart. My grief was completely different for both of them. My brother was 51 and my mother was 91. That made a big difference in the way I grieved their deaths. It has also affected the length of my grief. I miss them both but my twin brother’s death affects me more today than my mother’s death.
By the way, there is no timetable for grief either. It lasts as long as it takes to adjust to the changes in your life after the loss. It could be months or even years. Grief may very well come and go over a long period of time as well. Many people report being in a really good place when out of the blue they are “ambushed” by grief. This too is very normal and even typical when grieving a significant loss.
Lest I make grief sound so foreboding, I want to remind you that we do get past our grief. It is natural to grieve but it is also natural to eventually get to a better place and continue to live our lives. We can find ways to remember and treasure what we have lost while still experiencing joy and passion in our lives.
The theme for this year’s National Grief Awareness Day is “Coming out of darkness and into the light.” That is a really good word picture for what the journey of grief is like. Darkness is a good word for how we feel when we experience loss. Pain and sadness are a part of the journey. However, we always do step out of the darkness into the light. While time doesn’t heal our hurt it helps us to adjust to the loss and live our lives with joy and peace as we should.
The best advice anyone ever gave me during my grieving process was this; “fully experience the pain and sorrow that inevitably comes with loss because that is the only way to get to the other side of it.” National Grief Awareness Day is a reminder that it is ok and indeed necessary to fully experience our grief so that we can “come out of the darkness and into the light.”
If you feel stuck in your grief or think you need some assistance getting through it, feel free to contact one of the professionals in your local Hospice Care of South Carolina office. They will be able to point you in the right direction to find the help you desire.
Rev. Jim D. McClure, ThD
Chaplain, Hospice Care of South Carolina