What a Thoughtful Idea for Helping a Friend Through Grief

By Lulu Orr, Founder, the Good Grief Center

For many people, the coming spring months symbolize a time of renewal and therefore serve as a painful reminder of recent (and even not-so-recent) losses.

Those who’ve experienced a loss may find themselves alone with their grief during the springtime. They may receive callous reactions to their grief from people who don’t mean to be cruel, but who don’t understand, because they haven’t been through it. And yet, there are so many who have also gone through this same sadness. This is what the Good Grief Center in Pittsburgh is all about: helping people know they are not alone in their grief.

“Grief can take a long time to run its course,” Dr. Mark Miller, chair of GGC’s board. “Many people are surprised that someone experiencing grief still wants or needs to talk about it six months after the death. But that is perfectly natural. Instead of saying ‘you’re not over it yet?’ it’s better to recognize the grief and try to help in any way you can.”

“If a friend has experienced a death during the past year, for example, this can be a great time to recognize the friend’s loss,” said Miller. A framed picture, a poem, or a contribution to the deceased’s favorite cause are thoughtful ways to recognize that person’s spirit, and to acknowledge the hurt that is still being experienced.

Along those lines, GGC has recently developed a Care Package to help those grieving. This Care Package can be sent when the death occurs, or months later. “People are often unsure how to show their support for a person experiencing grief,” said Miller. “They fall back on old standbys like a basket of fruit or a flower arrangement. Those are fine, but the real message should be to remind the griever to take good care of him or herself.” This unique Care Package includes items to help them do just that – items such as a journal and pen, a mug with tea samplings, aromatic rosemary (the herb of remembrance), and a candle. Also included in the package is, 20 Tips For Good Grieving, a pamphlet developed by GGC to provide much-needed information on the grief process.

“Culturally, we have lost our personal symbols of grief,” said Miller. “There are some plusses to that, as many widows today probably wouldn’t want to be pressed to wear black for a full year, but there are downsides as well. If there is a way to designate your grief, there may be more sensitivity on the part of people you meet on a day-to-day basis.” As such, the Care Package will include a pin of the Good Grief Center’s Addy award-winning logo, a lower-case, purple “g” – which may one day become a new symbol of grieving, and could serve to make us all more sensitive to the need to take care or ourselves and others in times of loss.

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