Beyond Closure

When someone we love has died, the idea of closure seems anything but finite. And yet, how do we “find closure” if we’re not going to pass through a magical door and suddenly feel better? How can the rest of us help the bereaved through this uncharted territory that is grief?

Kelsi Mathews at In Memoriam has advice. 

Grief is a Journey

Focusing on the “what if’s” after someone dies can end up holding your grief hostage. “The world around us doesn’t stop when someone has died”, Mathews says. “Grief is just love with nowhere to go”. 

One of her favorite mentors taught her, “Grief shared is grief diminished, just as joy shared is joy increased.” It’s important to find a good listener no matter what you’re grieving, and if possible put that grief into an action or ritual; dance it out, write it out, cry it out, or even yell it out. Putting our grief into something tactile can be very beneficial.

It’s also so important to take good care of your body while going through these big feelings. Eat nourishing foods, let in some sunshine, and focus on physical sensations to keep your limbic system in check. 

Loss During and After the Holidays

It can be difficult for the heartbroken to reach out during the holidays. It’s important for us all to remember some of the hardest times are the firsts: the first holiday, the first birthday, and first death anniversary are going to be especially hard on the bereaved. “Instead of saying things like ‘they’re in a better place’ or immediately offering your story of loss, try saying ‘I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’m just a phone call away”, says Mathews. 

How You Can Help Someone Grieving

Mathews says for the first few days, give them a little space — there will come a time they’ll need assistance. If they ask for help, lend a hand. If not, check on them periodically. If they don’t respond immediately, don’t take it personally, but when you do connect, talk about how beloved their person was and share some fond memories.

 Again, listen and remember that silence is okay. Avoid offering unsolicited advice. Mathews adds in closing, “If more than six months has gone by and a person continues to spiral downward, it might be best to enlist help from a professional.”

“Grief shared is grief diminished, just as joy shared is joy increased.”

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