On a Path Toward Different

By: Natalie Jensen, Supervisee in Social Work

I once had someone ask, “Will this [grief] ever go away or be done?” My honest answer was simple, “I don’t know that it ever goes away or is done, but it does become different.”  

You may have taken some time to consider what it might be like to give intentional space for grief. You may be mulling over pros and cons. You may even have decided, yes, I would like to step forward into processing on a different level. Wherever you are, you are right where you are meant to be in this moment. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer. It is your answer. So it goes with grief and loss. 

While each experience is different, some shared human needs do exist. By tuning in and being intentional, we can honor those needs on the path toward a “different” relationship with grief. Every human experience includes grief – our internal process, thoughts, and feelings about the loss and our life in the “after”. This can be personal recollections of times together with our loved one, meaningful emotions, how they made us feel, longing for their voice, their presence, their help with the chores around the house they always took care of, remembering something they always said, hearing a song that was “just us”. Our internal thoughts and feelings may also be ones that resonate with pain, relief, resentment, hurtful exchanges, things left unsaid, or relationships that were jagged at best. These are no less than any others – they are all the internal process of grief. 

Our human experience also includes the need to mourn (our outward expression of grief). No matter the loss type, the outward sharing of inward feeling is necessary. But, it does not mean we all activate it in the same way. In fact, part of the unique journey we undertake is finding with whom and how we share with others. It is, however, a part of processing that needs to be heard and witnessed. For some experiencing long-term illness, the outward expression becomes anticipatory and happens in little and big ways each day. For others, outward expression begins around a funeral, memorial, or ceremony marking the death of a loved one. Many find that the sharing of stories, tales, and memories exist in daily interactions. Sometimes, triggering events will force a recounting of painful loss within a community. Still yet, there may be those of us who search and cannot find where it is safe to be our mourning selves. All these things (and more) are possibilities when it comes to mourning. 

In a safe and sacred space, there is freedom to be “you”, both grieving and mourning, without judgment. Our upcoming grief group cycle, which will run March – April, will be just such a space. You are invited to journey with others in a community of support and encouragement. The journey is yours to explore –and you do not have to take that step alone. If you are interested in learning more about our upcoming group or have questions, you can contact me at Natalie@sunstonecounselors.com.

Tis the Season

Given this time of year, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the effect the holiday season can have on each of our experiences with grieving and mourning. There have been years in my own personal loss history where I have done nothing like “I always did.” Other times I have found that adjustments here and there have helped in the long run. The months leading into the transition from 2019 to 2020 may include holidays, gatherings, office parties, travel, estrangement, deadlines, expectation, and stress. This time can also bring celebration, “friendsgivings”, traditions, creativity, a sense of community, laughter, anticipation, and joy. When adding these on top of a loss, multiple losses, or cumulative losses, one could see how this season overloads our grief experience.  

I want to offer each of you the option to choose differently. You have the right to decide to do or not do. You have the right to balance your experience with saying “no” or “not this year”. Below are some reference materials you may find helpful amidst what can be an overwhelming season. Even in this instance, take what you want, and leave what doesn’t resonate.  

Here’s to the journey.

Grievers Holiday Bill of Rights