6 Ways to Help with Grief
6 Ways to Help with Grief

6 Ways to Help with Grief


Becky Greene, a licensed social worker and certified grief recovery specialist with Hospice at Wyandot Memorial Hospital, shows just a few of the resources available to individuals experiencing grief. Although in-person support groups and gatherings are on hold during the pandemic, both she and Hospice Chaplain Steve Sturgeon are available by phone and virtual options.

During this pandemic, have you gone through grief?

You are not alone. As the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency rolls around, many have experienced grief from the loss of a loved one or the loss of what was their normal routines and activities.

“Grief is the normal and natural emotional response to change or loss of any kind,” explained Becky Greene, a licensed social worker and certified grief recovery specialist with Hospice at Wyandot Memorial Hospital.

She indicated there are approximately 40 different types of losses we can experience in a lifetime, such as death, divorce, moving, financial changes, relationship changes, pet loss and more. Grief is also the result of unmet hopes, dreams and expectations and the loss of intangible concepts such as safety, trust, security, respect, faith and hope.

“Grief is universal,” noted WMH Hospice Chaplain Steve Sturgeon. “All of us have experienced grief throughout our lives, as a result of many changes and losses. But we are not well prepared to really handle, manage or recover from the emotional impact which results from these changes.”

Sturgeon said some individuals try to cope with loss in an intellectual way by attempting to “figure it out”, “solve it” or “understand” it.

“We rely on the myths we have been taught to help us recover, such as time heals all wounds, be strong, replace the loss, they wouldn’t want us to be sad, fake it until you make it, etc.,” the chaplain stated.

“People say move on,” Greene added, “but you don’t move on – you move forward. You are who you are because of your loved one who has passed away.”

Greene and Sturgeon reported recovery from grief can be achieved if given the proper emotional tools, and they suggested six things to do for ourselves and for others:

1. Tell the truth about yourself. Be honest if your kids or friends ask how you are doing. Getting it out is extremely important. Plus, when you go first it makes it safe for the people you love to do the same thing. People grieve differently.

2. Listen. Follow every word they say and stay in the moment. Be patient. Give them time to talk without interrupting. It can be hard for grievers to formulate their thoughts and words, so they may take longer than usual. Let them share openly without judging, correcting, criticizing or analyzing them. Remember, it can be painful for grievers to talk about their loss. Allow them to feel listened to and safe, even if you feel uncomfortable. Honor their story.

3. Try not to isolate. Reach out to people you know via phone, social media or video chat.

4. Have healthy approaches to grief such as getting enough rest and eating nutritionally, and avoiding the short-term relief of food, alcohol, drugs, isolation, excessive work, excessive sleep, binge-watching television or more time on social media.

5. Engage in life … not just busy work, but in activities that promote enjoyment and wellness.

6. Don’t try to “fix” someone’s grief. It’s ok not to know what to say. Sometimes just being with that person, in the moment is all they need.

Greene and Sturgeon emphasized that these six tips are geared to the loss of a loved one, but can be adapted to anyone experiencing grief of any kind.

“Know you are not alone in feeling a sense of sadness over what we missed in 2020,” stressed Greene. “Recognizing your feelings are normal can be the first step to good grief and moving forward.”

Hospice offers a multifaceted bereavement program, including grief counseling and resources for all ages. For more information about grief and the bereavement program at Hospice, phone Greene or Sturgeon at 419-294-5787.