Meaningful Mourning

There was a time in our country’s history that we could easily identify someone in mourning. If you watch an older movie you often see them wearing black clothes to show everyone they are in mourning, allowing the community to empathize with them and surround them with support. 

Unfortunately for us, that has changed. We can no longer identify those in mourning by the clothes on their back. 

How do we mourn?

Is there a difference between mourning and grief?

Put simply, mourning is the outward expression of our grief, it’s our way of “getting it out of our body.” 

So how do we begin to mourn in our culture that begs us to just be okay?

Alan Wolfelt is a great resource for books and educational material on grief. He has a book called, “Eight Critical Questions for Mourners” and he goes through how we can begin to mourn and not feel ashamed because we are not okay. 

There should be no expectation for you to be okay when you lose someone so dear to you. We want to remind you that these are just questions for you to ponder, we hope that you will take the ones that you feel like apply to you, to heart. If you don’t feel like one of them fits your grief journey, move onto the next one. Grief is such an individual experience, we do the best we can to try to get you information that may help. This is by no means an all inclusive process to “get over” losing your loved one. We never finish grief, we just walk through it differently over time.

8 Critical Questions for Mourners:

Will I grieve this loss, or will I mourn this loss?

Will I befriend the feelings that flow from this loss, or will I deny, repress or inhibit them?

Will I be a passive witness to my grief, or will I be an active participant in my grief?

Will I embrace the uniqueness of my grief experience, or will I assume I mourn like everyone else?

Will I identify the six needs of mourning and work on them, or will I fall victim to the cliché “time heals all wounds?”

Will I move toward reconciliation of my grief or will I believe I must come to a complete resolution of my grief?

Will I embrace the transformation from this loss or will I keep trying to get my old self back?

Will this loss add to my “divine spark,” or will it take away my life force?

One of the first things we can do is work on accepting that grief and loss are a part of life, that does not mean that it is not extremely painful, but we can try to remember that everyone has experienced some sort of loss and that all humans share that experience.

If you are new to this outward expression of what you are feeling inside, take it slow. There is no pressure to make yourself feel all of these difficult emotions all at once, it is overwhelming. So, next time you want to cry, allow yourself to. It does not mean that you are weak or giving yourself a pity party. It can be extremely therapeutic to allow yourself feelings and not experience guilt along with the other feelings.

Just like the 5 Stages of Grief these are a journey, you may feel comfortable expressing yourself one day, and the next be shut down to feeling anything. That is perfectly okay, being aware of the process is half the battle. 

We have given you some examples of what mourning might look like.

Grief requires action from us, that action has a name: mourning. Try to embrace how you feel and mourn in a way that feels right for you. Encourage those around you to mourn as well. 

Please let us know if we can do anything to help you. 

-The Retreat Bereavement Team

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