As I sit in the local coffee shop with my noise canceling headphones on, I see multiple groups of people who are in their own conversations. They are in their own worlds. Each group has its agenda, some work, some friendship, some are sitting in solitude. Everyone’s world is turning on its own axis with its own problems and its own achievements. It is a concept that just fascinates me.

There is one thing I am assuming is a commonality among all of these people though. I am assuming every single person in this building has experienced grief. Maybe not all to the same extent, but at least to some degree.

What is GRIEF? To keep it short and simple: a response to loss.

It can be a loss of a loved one, a job, a pet, a favorite sweater, even the loss of an idea. It doesn’t matter what the loss was, just the fact that something that was once endeared is no longer with them.

With National Grief Awareness Day tomorrow, this is something I wanted to touch base on. With the sudden loss of my mother 8 months after losing my paternal grandmother, then the loss my stepmother exactly one year later, and 2 of our beloved aunts and my youngest brother all within 3 years… it is safe to say our family has been through some really challenging times. Grief has been something we have been forced to learn to accept as part of everyday life. It is something I personally, have had to learn to make space for in my calendar. Yes, I know that sounds really controlling, but it is actually the opposite. If I know there is an event coming that could potentially cause big feelings, I don’t schedule as much. I allow there to be as much downtime as possible around that potential episode. I do not force said episode but if it happens, I have space for it. I have learned for me to personally grieve fully, I have to have alone time. If anyone is around, I will go right into “mom mode” and take care of anyone and anything in front of me. I will even SEARCH it out to not have to feel my feelings sometimes. I now know this have adjusted, but it has taken a couple years to recognize my habits. So I here are a few of my thoughts on this topic:

If you are grieving the most important thing is to take care of yourself. If you are like me and find yourself “too busy”, adjust. No you are not too busy. Set a routine. Now is when it is more important than ever. Your brain will be so scattered trying to comprehend the loss that you will need reminders to do the things that were once habit. DO NOT take on shame with that. You did not intentionally cause any of this loss. It is not your fault. Now, use your resources. Use your phone alarms and reminders. Use Alexa. Use post its around the house. This is a season and you will get through it, but you have to feel it in order to do so. So allow yourself that time.

The biggest question I get asked is “How can I help?” when someone you love is grieving. Here are a few ideas:

Do not ask to help, just do it. The person grieving cannot take anymore things to think about. Just show up. Just drop off the meal. Just do it. Do not ask for permission to love them.

Know that this is not something that will go away in a couple weeks. Grief is something that comes and goes forever. Allow the person to grieve on their own time. Pick a day of the week to get a few families together and you all pick a week to drop of a meal. Think meal train.

Pick a day of the week, to routinely check on them. It will catch them off guard the first couple of times probably but then it will be something they look forward to.

Go mow their grass. Have groceries delivered. Send them their favorite chocolate or drink. Just let them know that you are thinking of them.

Allow them to talk about the loss they are experiencing. YOU talk about it with them. Letting someone know that you loved their loved one or item too brings joy and peace.

If you are the praying type, ask if you can pray for them and with them. They may say no and that is OK. Their mental state may not be able to take the public display but they will hold the offer dear in their heart and know you and God love them.

And pray on your own for them. God knows best what that person needs. Fuel Him to fuel them.

Please, if you are grieving and you need someone, reach out. You can reach out to me, a counselor, your family, your friends, God, or if none of those feel comfortable, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Do not sit in isolation. I can promise you that you are not alone. Just like everyone in this coffee shop, we all have our own things going on, but we ALL have experienced grief and will experience it again even. The key is learning to feel it and keep living.

Much love.