Grief is a complex and universal experience that encompasses far more than just the loss of a loved one, such as the loss of a job, a significant life change, or the end of a relationship.
By deepening our understanding of what coping with grief entails, we can better navigate our personal experience with loss, and be better able to support others when they are grieving a loss.

1. What is Grief?

Grief is the natural response to loss and is a process that knows no timeline. It is like a heavy fog that rolls in after, the ache in your chest when you say goodbye to a chapter of your life or the silent mourning of life dreams that didn’t come to pass.

It’s anger, sadness, denial, guilt and many other feelings all tangled up together. It is the bittersweet reminder of the beauty, fragility and impermanence of life – that when we love deeply, we also will face the deep pain of loss.

2. How to Cope if You Are Grieving

Coping with grief is an intensely personal journey, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Trust that you know what is best for yourself in your grieving process and remember that there is no right or wrong way to be or feel as you grieve. Here are some ways to navigate through this challenging time:

  • Acknowledge Your Feelings: It’s ok that you are not ok right now. As you feel able, allow yourself to feel the full spectrum of emotions that accompany grief.
  • Seek Support: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family who can offer empathy and understanding. Please know that it is also normal and ok if you need extra space too. Sometimes the support of a professional counsellor can feel easier than leaning on loved ones.
  • Practice Self-Care: This means doing what feels best for you right now. Engaging in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul can be helpful, but may not be what you need. If you feel up for it, activities like walking, journaling, meditation, or spending time in nature can help to replenish your emotional reserves.
  • Be Patient with Yourself: Grieving is a nonlinear process marked by ups and downs. Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you navigate the ebbs and flows of grief.

3. How to Support a Loved One Who is Grieving

Supporting a loved one through grief requires empathy, patience, and a willingness to simply be present. Here are some ways you can offer support:

  • Listen: Sometimes, the most powerful form of support is simply listening. Allow your loved one to express their feelings without judgement or interruption.
  • Offer Practical Help: From cooking meals to running errands, offering practical assistance can alleviate some of the burdens your loved one may be facing.
    Respect Their Process: Everyone grieves differently, so respect your loved one’s unique grieving process. Avoid imposing your own timeline or expectations onto them.
  • Validate Their Feelings: Let your loved one know that it’s okay to feel whatever they’re feeling. Offer validation and reassurance that their emotions are valid and understandable.
  • Be There for the Long Haul: Grieving is not a finite process; it’s an ongoing journey. Continue to offer your support and presence long after the initial shock has subsided.

Most importantly, remember to care for yourself as you support someone else. If you want to learn more about how to support a loved one, Grief Ally by Aly Bird is a helpful resource recommended by Steadfast Counsellor Alexa McEwen.

Counselling Can Help While Experiencing Grief

Seeking counselling support while grieving, or supporting someone who is grieving, can provide a valuable source of support, guidance, and validation as you navigate the challenging emotions and experiences that come with loss.

Our Steadfast Counsellors offer in-person counselling sessions for couples, individuals and families in New Westminster, Langley, Vancouver and North Vancouver and are available for online counselling sessions.

Grief-Related Resources We Recommend

Aly Bird Master Resource List

British Columbia Bereavement Helpline

Lower Mainland Grief Recovery Society

Runs grief support and recovery programs in Vancouver throughout the year