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You’re Not Grieving Right!

by Chaplain Julia Rajtar, MAPS, BCC

Two family members attended a grief group, each expressing how they grieve, creating some conflict. One said, I choose to celebrate Mom. Celebrating her on her birthday doesn’t mean I’m grieving. That’s not how I define grief!”

The other said, “I remember, celebrate, cry, laugh, and tell stories to remember Mom on her birthday. Yes, she is dead. Yes, that’s how I grieve.”

Is it grief? Both people grieve in their own way, honoring their deceased loved one in a manner that is meaningful to them. Each of us has to find our own pathway as we experience grief. Each of our journeys with loss is distinct and individual. 

Grief is a type of stress reaction – a set of highly personal and subjective responses that individuals experience in connection with real, perceived, or anticipated losses. Includes cognitive, spiritual, behavioral, and physiological responses.  Handbook of Thanatology, 3rd Ed

Can grief be celebrating your deceased loved one – yes it can. Can it be crying, laughing, telling stories, yes it can. If one person does not cry, are they still grieving… yes they can be.

Sometimes, it’s not as important that we define it as “grief”; what is more important is that we allow ourselves the time and space with it. 

Resource for Additional Information on Grief

The Hospice Foundation of America provides a variety of brief articles in grief for further reading, HELPFUL GRIEF ARTICLES.

Resource cited in article

Servaty-Seib, Heather L, and Helen Stanton Chapple, eds. Handbook of Thanatology, 3rd Ed. Association for Death Education & Counseling, 2021.

Ashworth, Donna. Loss: Poems to better weather the many waves of grief, Black & White Publishing, 2023. 

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