The difference between grief and mourning.
Grief and mourning are often used interchangeably. They are used to describe the same thing but they are actually very different from each other.
Grief comes from love. It is internal. It is deep within you. Grief refers to the way you feel inside. Your thoughts, your feelings. That initial shock and pain of losing someone/something we love. It is that feeling of being “torn apart.” It is a private struggle.
Mourning is step two. It is an external response. It is usually a shared response with other loved ones. It is social, like a funeral or memorial service. Mourning takes that internal emotional response and externalizes it. It is an action— like planting a tree, holding a service, sharing memories with family or friends.
External mourning is important when moving forward through loss. It allows us to get our feelings out, to release them and connect with them differently. Without mourning, our grief can turn into something that is carried with us in private causing continuous pain. That is why we tend to choose something to represent and memorialize the person/pet we have loss. We want to let out some of that emotion and feel ok again.
Moving forward, and accepting a loss does not end the pain forever. It will still come and go with time and often change the way it shows its face. But it is important that we recognize the difference and understand the benefits of mourning as a community, leaning on each other, offering support. You can’t hold it all inside forever.
Acceptance is an important part of healing. It is a necessary step to begin moving forward. But, just because you have gotten to the acceptance stage doesn’t mean that all your grieving is done.
Acceptance of a loss does not mean you won’t feel sad at times or lament every once in a while. You still might have moments where grief overtakes. You still might feel overwhelmed with sadness at times, and that is ok.
Still Have Moments
Loss of any kind is difficult to accept but even after you learn to embrace your reality you will still be faced with moments. After all, you once had this person, pet, home, a career that you loved, that was part of you and you will still miss it.
Part of acceptance is learning to live with loss and to allow yourself to feel those moments of sadness. Don’t tuck it away or shrug it off, let yourself live it and then move slowly back into your present reality. The loss that you are grieving is just as much a part of you as the person, place, thing that you once had.
Find The Joy
These moments, while difficult to endure, are little reminders to look at what we still do have in our lives. They teach us to find the joy in the little things and embrace the moments of peace that fall between the moments of grief.
If you are struggling with moving through grief or loss of any kind, it may be helpful to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional. They can help you through to the acceptance stage and give suggestions on how to move forward through the sad times. You are stronger than you think. Your loss is meaningful. It is important. It is not forgotten. It is ok to have moments, to live them, to be in your grief. It is ok.
I miss my father more than ever. He died when I was just 10 years old.
He died around the holiday season making this time of the year difficult for my family and me.
After he passed, I took his cigar box from my mom and I have had it ever since. Its always had a spot in my home. It’s a piece of him that I hold dear. Whenever I want to connect with him, I find myself talking to the box. I put special things in the box, written wishes, and goals for the next year. It’s like talking to him.
Most times when I am talking to the box, I am also crying. I cry because I miss him. I am grieving him because I loved him. It has been difficult but I recognize that those tears come from my sadness that he is no longer with us.
Grief is a testament to love. Love is such a beautiful, complex yet simple, thing. I hate that I feel sad and miss my dad but I am so very glad I got to love him. I would not have it any other way. I would much rather have a love that turns into grief than to never have loved at all.
Other people, I have talked to have similar, yet different, ways of connecting with their loved ones who are no longer around. For some it is continuing on with a tradition, wearing a special outfit, looking at the stars, reading a card, attending a religious ceremony, wearing a piece of jewelry — whatever it is, however you choose to connect is personal and unique to your situation.
How do you choose to connect with your loved ones when they are no longer around?