The Complete Guide To National Grief Awareness Day
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.
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August 16, 2022
My research has shown that Kubler-Ross originally talked about these 5 experiences as common experiences people who were dying went through. She did not intend them to be for those who are grieving after a death.
There is a lot more that people go through then these 5 experiences and some people never go through any of these. Simply put this part of Kubler-Ross's work is often misinterpreted and many consider it outdated, because we know so much more now.
August 31, 2021
The five stages are not always in that order and can ALL be at the same time too. It is difficult to explain a “stage” to a non-grieving person and the depth of each stage is different for everyone. Until grief is a personal experience for someone it cannot be defined as easily as putting it in stages.
August 30, 2021
Please do not just leave the five stages there without going further into this! Elizabeth did NOT intend these stages to define or encapsulate grief that ensues with the death of a loved one!!! She was quite disgusted by the way in which they were 'pasted' onto grievers by psychologists and others. PLEASE!!!! What happens often is that those not in active grief begin to tell grievers "Oh you must be in Anger now." etc. and thus minimize the larger grief experience!!! Please direct people to a deeper understanding of Elizabeth's work! Check in with David Kessler and his work if you want someone who can truly guide you on this. Otherwise this information gets misused and misunderstood and causes more pain than help.
August 21, 2021
Thank you for bringing attention to grief in this way. The thing is that Kubler-Ross identified the 5 stages of grief in the dying person, not the griever. I will be interested to see how our community responds to this national Day of Grief as we are in the most difficult of times. - Shanti Vani, Grief Recovery Specialist