Normalizing Grief: Why It’s Okay to Feel the Way You Do

Grief therapists are often asked what is "normal" when processing grief. People are looking for guidance and reassurance during a time that feels anything but normal.
By illume Editorial Team
Last updated: Apr 10, 2023
3 Minute Read

Grief is a universal human experience. Simply put, it’s an emotional response to the loss of a loved one. People often look for guidance and reassurance during a time that feels anything but normal. However, It is important to recognize that while intense, grief is a normal and natural part of life. 

But the truth is, there is not one right way to grieve. Each person’s experience is unique, and what’s important is that you permit yourself to feel whatever you feel. 

In this blog, we will delve into the concept of normal grief and its impact on individuals and families. We’ll also share how our grief support app can be instrumental in providing comfort and assistance during this challenging journey.

What is Normal Grief?

Grief is a deeply personal and unique experience, and there is no “right” way to grieve. Normal grief encompasses a range of emotions and behaviors that individuals may experience when they lose someone close to them. It is crucial to understand that grief is not linear and has no fixed timetable or roadmap. 

Each person’s grieving process is different, and that is perfectly okay. It’s healthy and natural to grieve a loved one. Signs of healthy grief are when the grieving person begins accepting the reality and finds coping strategies to deal with their new normal. 

The Importance of Social Support During Grief

During times of loss, family members and close friends play a vital role in providing social support. They offer a comforting presence and lend a listening ear to those navigating the grief journey. There’s also support groups for those who would like extra help and need guidance through their grief.

Our Grief Works support app acts as an extension of this support network, connecting individuals with others who can empathize and relate to their experiences. With regular live sessions, you can join a community focused on healing and support. 

Grief: a Rollercoaster of Intense Feelings

Normal grief is characterized by a wide range of emotions, including feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, and even relief. These intense feelings can be overwhelming, and it is important to validate them. The stages of grief have misled many people, giving the hope of a linear process – when in reality grief is anything but. 

The Grief Works app provides a safe space for individuals to express and process their emotions without judgment. The course is designed to help you process your grief at a pace that is set by you. There’s a tool kit full of resources on hand for when you need them and there’s always the ability to chat with a therapist.

Understanding Different Types of Loss

Grief is not solely limited to the death of a loved one. It can also be experienced after the end of a significant relationship, a job loss, or a major life change. This often manifests as ambiguous loss where you need to come to terms with unresolved situations or circumstances that have happened differently to what you had planned or hoped.

Often closely related to this is anticipatory grief for those who are facing a terminal illness and for their families too. Before the finality of death, everyone mourns the life they had together and the future plans with their loved one.

The loss of a pet can also trigger grief and is fast becoming a bigger discussion within the workplace as people are asking for bereavement leave for pets. With more people seeing their pets as part of the family, and in some cases replacing the choice to have children, grief around our animal companions is becoming more intense. 

When Grief Becomes Complicated

While normal grief is a natural process, there are instances where it can become complicated. Complicated grief may manifest as prolonged and intense symptoms that interfere with daily life. In such cases, seeking the help of a mental health professional is crucial. 

For more information on complicated grief please see our in-depth guide. 

The Connection between Grief and Mental Health:

Grief can have a profound impact on mental health, often exacerbating existing conditions or leading to the development of new ones. Often people feel a sense of overwhelm after the death of a loved one and when faced with the tumultuous nature of grief – the emotions can be incredibly triggering. 

In some cases, grief can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. It is important to be aware of the signs, such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and heightened anxiety. 

Additionally, individuals experiencing intense grief may turn to substance abuse as a way to cope which can have adverse effects on mental health too. 

Tips to Help With Normalizing Grief

Here are a few actionable steps to help you navigate your journey:

  1. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling. There’s no “right” way to grieve.
  2. Understand that grief is messy, chaotic, and unpredictable. It’s normal to feel abnormal when you’re grieving.
  3. Take the time you need to adjust to your new reality. Healing is a slow process, and there are no shortcuts.
  4. Consider seeking additional support, especially if you’re experiencing prolonged or complex grief. There’s no shame in asking for help; it can make all the difference in your healing journey.

Find Grief Support with Grief Works by Illume

Getting support when grieving is essential. It can be challenging, but you don’t have to worry!

The Grief Works app helps you overcome grief and connect with a community that cares for you. It also offers live monthly calls and the ability to chat with a therapist when needed.

Moreover, it has a built-in journal book for your daily diary and the Grief Works Curriculum to guide you in this wonderful healing journey.