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.