12 Freedoms of Healing in Grief

  1.  You have the freedom to realize that your grief is unique.
    • No one grieves exactly as you do.
    • Don’t compare your expectations with those of other people.
    • Don’t make assumptions about how long your grief will last.
    • Take a ‘day at a time’ approach that lets you grieve at your own pace.
  2.  You have the freedom to talk about your grief.
    • Ignoring your grief won’t make it go away; talking about it often makes you feel better.
    • Avoid persons who are critical of you and your grief.
    • Find people who will walk with you on your journey.
    • You have the right to express your grief.  No one has the right to take it away.
  3. You have the freedom to expect to feel a multitude of emotions.
    • Experiencing loss affects your head, your heart and your spirit.
    • You may experience confusion, disorganization, fear, guilt, or other explosive emotions; this is normal.  Allow yourself to learn from these emotions.  Find someone who understands these feelings and will allow you to talk about them.
  4. You have the freedom to allow for numbness
    • Feeling numb is part of the early grief experience.
    • This feeling is necessary because it helps to create insulation from the reality of death until you are more able to tolerate what you do not want to believe.
    • It gives your emotions time to catch up with what your mind has told you.
  5. You have the freedom to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
    • Your feelings of loss and sadness will leave you fatigued.
    • Your ability to think clearly and make decisions will be reduced.
    • Nurture yourself
    • Caring for yourself doesn’t mean feeling sorry for yourself; it means you are using survival skills.
  6.  You have the freedom to experience grief attacks or memory embraces.
    • Sometimes, out of nowhere, you will experience attacks of grief.  This can be frightening, overwhelming or even embarrassing.
    • These attacks of memory embraces are normal.
    • Find someone who understand and talk it out with them.
  7.  You have the freedom to develop a support system.
    • The most loving action you can take at this time is to find a support system of caring people who will understand your needs, encourage you to be yourself, and acknowledge your feelings.
  8. You have the freedom to make use of ritual.
    • Rituals are specifically designed actions that have deep meaning and significance to the person doing them.
    • Rituals may be as simple as lighting a candle or thinking a special thought.
    • Designing and performing a ritual helps you express your grief outside of yourself and helps you experience a transformation of your relationship to your loved one.
  9. You have the freedom to embrace your spirituality.
    • If faith is a part of your belief, express it.
    • If you are angry at God because of what has happened, express it.
    • Find people who won’t be critical of your expressions of anger and abandonment, but who will understand and support these expressions of your spirituality.
  10. You have the freedom to allow a search for meaning.
    • You may ask ‘why?’
    • This search for meaning is normal.
    • The healing comes not in finding answers but in actual posing of the questions.
    • Find someone who will listen and be supportive while you search for meaning.
  11. You have the freedom to treasure your memories.
    • Memories are one of the best legacies given to us after someone we love dies.
    • we need to treasure them and share them.
    • Whether they make us laugh or cry, memories are a lasting part of the relationship we had with that very special person.
  12. You have the freedom to move toward your grief and heal.
    • The capacity to love requires the necessity to grieve.
    • You cannot heal unless you openly express your grief.
    • Reconciling to your grief won’t happen quickly.  Grief is a process – not an event.
    • Be patient and tolerant with yourself.
    • When someone we love dies, we are changed forever.  Not that we will never be happy again; it’s just that we are not exactly the same as we were before.