Grief and the Healing Power of Naming
Walking through grief—processing the loss of someone or something that’s important to you—is one of life’s most difficult journeys. Whether you have lost a beloved person, a job, a community, an activity, or a lifestyle, it can be surprisingly powerful to see what you’ve lost written down…and to share it with others. It's not just in your head anymore; it's out in the world, in your community. It's real.
Grief: A Room to Walk Through
Grief is a unique, whole-being experience. It's similar to plain old sadness, but it has its own special ache, and its own path that it invites us to walk. We can stay busy and avoid grief, we can set it aside—and we should do that sometimes, because it's too much to feel a heavy loss constantly—but it waits for us to come back. It's like a room we simply have to walk through, if we ever want to see what life looks like on the other side of it.
(Which can't and won't be the same. It will be changed, as your grief becomes integrated into who you are and you are able to carry it with a lighter heart.)
Sharing Your Loss. Connecting to the Truth
Sharing your loss is like taking one step into that room. Telling a friend about the person you love who died or the opportunity or experience you lost is another step. Writing in a journal or participating in a grief support group is one more. These things hurt, but they also connect us to the truth about what we've lost and who we are, and the truth is powerful.
Helping a Grieving Friend
And how can you help a grieving friend? Be present as they walk through their rooms. It's so hard to do without support.
- Invite them to talk about their loss.
- Check in.
- Let them cry without trying to make it stop.
- Ask them to take a walk or go for coffee.
- Let them know how much they matter to you. Then let them know again tomorrow.
Meagan Howell-Brogan, LCSW
Meagan Howell-Brogan, LCSW is a licensed clinical counselor at Lancaster General Health at Franklin & Marshall College Student Wellness Center. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and employs mindfulness, self-compassion, AEDP and CBT influenced therapy with her undergraduate student-clients. Meagan is a lover of books, friends, music, yoga, food, spontaneous social gatherings, hikes, excellent conversation, and her family.