What is grief?

Grief occurs when we experience a loss. This can include loss of:

  • Health
  • Function
  • Expectations, hopes, plans, goal
  • Friendships/relationship
  • Work/career
  • Identity
  • Sense of safety or control
  • Faith
  • Sense of worth or belonging
  • Traditions

Stages of Grief and Loss

  • shock and denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance

**Grief is not linear; it is not a checkbox list of stages.**

New stages--Finding Meaning

  • Peace — acceptance and calm
  • Connection — honors the loss, the loved one, and their ongoing place in our lives
  • Hope — redirects towards life and the future

**Finding meaning in grief can be transformative.**

Supporting Those in Grief

  • Listen and support, no need to fix anything
  • Sit with hard feelings
  • Offer to be alongside versus offering advice
  • Admitting we can’t make it better or take away the pain
  • Not asking for feelings to be changed
  • Recognizing and honoring the loss
  • Not giving a time limit on grief

Working on Grief and Loss


  • Journaling
  • Reviewing your past success with coping in other losses or hard situations
  • Focus on the WHAT IS not the WHAT IF
  • Use humor (but not exclusively)
  • Remember how to eat an elephant — one bite at a time
  • Treat ourselves as we would treat our best friend or our child

The ACTION Side:

  • Slow, measured breathing
  • Relaxation or prayer/meditation
  • Develop a grief ritual
  • Pleasant activities
  • Gratitude list
  • Start and keep a “normal” routine
  • Regular exposure to sunlight
  • Healthy sleep habits
  • Nutrition and exercise¬†