Normalizing grief and bereavement is a part of life, remembering to allow time to grieve, to remember, to be patient and to heal.
Today is the perfect day to think about those feelings, as Nov. 20 is the second annual National Bereavement Day. Our culture tends to deny, diminish and judge the pain of grief, but the truth is grief is not something to be afraid of, to hide from or to think of as bad or weak. It is not an illness or mental-health problem. If you are grieving, rest assured what you are experiencing is not only normal; it is the very thing that will help you heal.
The Central Okanagan Hospice Association offers bereavement services to those who want help after losing a loved one. Those who have taken part in the COHA’s grief groups say the sessions have helped immensely.
“Attending the grief groups has given me a chance to talk about my feelings, my husband, my struggles and made me realize I am not alone,” says a woman who recently lost her husband and wished to remain anonymous. “They have been so compassionate, respectful and attentive that I feel very supported by them and the group, as painful as this time is for me.”
Grief is the instinctive human response to loss. It is a normal, necessary journey we must embark on after something we have valued is gone. Grief is the price we pay for the joy of having loved.
There is a difference between grief and mourning. Grief is what we think and feel on the inside, and mourning is the outward expression of our grief. To move through grief in a healthy way, one must actively mourn.
Mourning is crying, talking about the loss, journaling, sharing memories and telling stories. Other ways to mourn include praying, making things, joining in ceremonies and participating in grief groups. If we explore, embrace and express along the way, the pain can soften and eventually become less painful.
Mourning is how, over time, we begin to heal. It is through active, honest mourning that we can introduce hope, joy and meaning back into our lives.
That’s what COHA aims to do with its bereavement services.
“The sudden loss of my husband and wonderful father to my children has been profoundly devastating,” Chelan Ireland says. “My family and I have been very fortunate in finding the services of COHA. We found the support we needed in the form of weekly counselling sessions for both myself and the children as well as the bereavement yoga and reiki sessions.
“There is a special understanding between clients and the staff and volunteers at COHA that comes from knowing you share the experience of deep loss. There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your grief. Thank you, COHA!”
For more information on COHA’s bereavement services, visit its website or call Jessica Hughes, associate director of bereavement services, at 250-763-5511.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Okanagan Edge.
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