Everybody experiences grief, whether it's from the death of a loved one or other life changes. Grief affects everyone differently so in this episode my friend Michelle (a hospice social worker) and I talk about what to expect in grief, how to support someone who is grieving, how to grieve in a healthy way, how to help our kids when we--or they--are grieving, how to process regret, how to deal with mass grief from things like school shootings, and so much more.

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So today we’re going to be talking about grief.

 

Grief can affect us and our kids physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

Joining me for this episode is my very dear friend Michelle McDonough.

 

I don’t know if she knows how much I admire and look up to her, but she’s one of those people who I just want to be like. When we met I couldn’t believe how many things were on my bucket list that she had already done! She is a world traveler, a triathlete, can get around in several languages, and is one of the most committed mothers and wives I know. She is thoughtful and witty and wise and really one of my very favorite people.

 

I invited Michelle to join me for this episode, not just because of her experience as a grief counselor, but because I’ve seen her really live what she teaches, as she’s gone through her own grief, and because of how she’s supported me through my grief.

 

Our conversation covers many topics related to grief including types of grief (like death and life changes) and how they affect people differently, how to support someone who is grieving, how to grieve in a healthy way, when to get help, how to help our kids when we’re grieving, or when they’re grieving, and   more.

 

So here we go…

 

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Conversation with Michelle

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Isn’t Michelle awesome? I’m so grateful to have her in my life.

 

So here are some of my key insights from our conversation:

 

  • When a loved one is experiencing grief, acknowledge that you don’t know what it’s like for them, and ask if they want to share with you.

  • So much of what Michelle talked about seemed to point back to just talking about the grief. It seems like sometimes grief can be the elephant in the room. Grief can affect us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and ignoring the elephant can prohibit healing from taking place.

  • The symptoms of grief are many and varied - from denial, depression, and anger, to difficulty eating, sleeping, and making decisions. Grief affects everyone individually, and you can’t compare your experience to anyone else’s. Give yourself grace.

  • I’m so glad Michelle talked about the fact that she went to see a grief counselor. It might sound ironic that a grief counselor went through grief counseling. But I think it just illustrates that there is no shame in seeking professional help. Even people who have incredible insights into how to process emotions sometimes need help processing their own.

  • Help kids with grief

    • by talking openly to their level of understanding, encouraging them to express themselves either verbally, or through art, or creating something to remember the person or the loss somehow.

    • by modeling good grief - by taking care of yourself.

    • by emphasizing that emotions are ok.

    • by getting back to routines as soon as possible.

    • by using appropriate humor.

 

One model of processing grief that Michelle mentioned includes 6 recognition needs:

  • Acknowledge the reality

  • Embrace the pain of the loss

  • Remember the person who died

  • Develop new self-identity “new normal”

  • Receive ongoing support from others

  • Search for meaning

 

I hope this episode helps you in your parenting this week. Join me next week for more tools and hope to empower you as you raise today’s kids. Thanks for listening and have an awesome day!

Brittany