Grief is something that everyone experiences at some point in their life. Often it is brought on by the loss of a loved one or someone that was close to us like a friend or a pet. But grief can also be brought on by many other experiences as well. It is a part of life and something that everyone must work through. For some, grief is managed quickly, and we are able to deal with our emotions with relative pain or depression. For others though, grief can be a long and winding road.
August 30, is National Grief Awareness Day. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness about how we cope with grief, how you can help others cope, and ways to raise awareness and end the stigmas many people have about those that are grieving.
A Brief History of Grief Awareness Day
The day was first founded by Angie Cartwright in 2014. Angie has experienced much pain and grief throughout her life. When she was five years old, she lost her baby sister. In 1996, her husband was involved in a car accident and passed away. Finally, in 2010, she lost her mother to a drug overdose.
Each of these experiences was an incredibly difficult time. During each of these periods, she found that many people have a certain stigma or attitude towards grief. When people lose someone, they are often told they need to move on and get over their sadness. This is because many people view grief as something that needs to be fixed. The result is, the grieving feel shamed or rushed because many view what they are going through as something that is taboo.
Angie understood that this results in many people grieving in silent. This can result in many negative experiences. As Angie says in her own words “silent grief, can be a deadly grief”.
National Grief Awareness Day is her attempt to properly address grief and how we deal with it to end the stigma. It has become a movement of people dedicated to showing compassion for others and striving to educate those who hold a negative attitude towards grief.
Check out the video below to hear Angie speak about the day and her personal experiences with grief at National Grief & Hope Convention.
The Five Stages of Grief
The five stages of grief were first proposed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book Death and Dying. They can be applied to a variety of circumstances including the loss of a close relationship, the death of a valued being (person or animal), or in response to a terminal illness diagnosis.
1.) Denial and Isolation
The first stage of grief is denial and isolation. Typically, when we first receive unexpected or unpleasant news, our initial response is to become overwhelmed with emotions and deny the situation.
After initially denying the situation, people often begin to experience anger. This is a result of the pain and vulnerable feelings that come from receiving unpleasant news. To cope with this we direct these feelings outward as anger.
This is when we try to bargain and figure out a way for people to improve the situation. It is not uncommon for people to try to talk to God or a higher power as a way to postpone or change the situation.
Depression usually occurs for two different reasons. The first is when we are considering the practical implications of the loss. This includes worrying about finances and other matters. The second reason is more personal and when we are preparing to say goodbye to our loved one and adjust to life without them.
The final stage is acceptance. This is when we begin to calm and move past the depression stage. It does not mean a period of happiness but rather making peace with the situation.
Ways to Celebrate Grief Awareness Day
The easiest way to celebrate National Grief Awareness Day is to simply be there for your loved ones that are grieving. Let them know you are here to support them and understand that overcoming grief is not as simple as turning it off like a light switch.
Whether you are there to tell a joke and use humor to encourage laughter, cook a warm meal, or simply be there to offer a comforting presence; there are plenty of ways to help those you love. Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. For some, a counselor or therapist may be beneficial to helping your loved one. Offer support and if you can, go with your loved one to help make the meeting easier.
If you are interested in supporting this day, you can visit change.org to sign a petition to make this an official national day.
You can also visit the official Facebook page and use #GriefAwarenessDay when posting on social media.