May Our Grief Transform Us

Andrea Butler, The Hartford's Behavioral Health Unit

When we hear the word “grief” it brings up many things and yet when we say “grief” in 2021 it brings up more than we care to even think about. No doubt we have all experienced grief throughout our lives in one form or another, but recently, well, I know I don’t even need to start naming the ways it has occurred.

Grief can lead to anxiety and depression and other mental health symptoms that we may not be aware of, and yet there are so many suggestions on how to handle it. If only these suggestions took away the pain I find myself facing over and over again.

I worked as a therapist in an outpatient clinic in Massachusetts along with a domestic violence grant funded program.  Although there were many people grieving and in pain, what struck me most was how amidst the pain, it brought out the most caring and creative aspects of people showing their incredible strength and resilience.  It renewed my belief in the human spirit in its most pure form over and over again.

Transforming Sorrow into Resilience

If you know me personally you know 2020 was my worst year ever, and although I have experienced sorrow through losing family members before, this year I lost my beloved husband of 26 years on March 13.  Literally the day before the pandemic shut the world down. Then three months later my father passed away after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

I am having to find a new identity through the pain and yet I am determined to carry them with me as I transform my sorrow into more resilience.  I have been extremely blessed with an amazingly supportive work group along with two incredible daughters, and extended family and friends that have surrounded me in my worst hour.  So I know all of that is why I can share my grief and means more than I could even put into words.

Basic Truths About Grief

Lastly, I want to share some basic truths about grief from a book I am reading that was given during a support group at the local hospital. I hope these are new to some reading this because I know there are a lot of theories and suggestions out there about grief, but I think these are important to give yourself and others through the grief journey and beyond.

The Mourner’s Bill of Rights

You have the right to:

  • Experience your own unique grief.
  • Talk about your grief.
  • Feel a multitude of emotions.
  • Be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
  • Experience ” grief bursts.”
  • Make use of ritual.
  • Embrace your spirituality.
  • Search for meaning.
  • Treasure your memories.
  • Move toward your grief and heal.

(Dr. Phillips Hospital, Spiritual Care Dept. “A Journey Through Grief”)

Grief is Different, Yet Universal

We all have things to gain from our grief, as different though it may be. After all, grief is a universal experience but felt individually. I can’t imagine how someone else is feeling, but I do know that we’re all feeling it.

As for me, I’m still working through my grief—as I know countless others who have experienced loss are as well. It does and will take time. What gives me comfort is not only those in my support network, but the knowing that a stronger, more resilient version of myself waits on the other side of this journey.

Share “May Our Grief Transform Us”: Help others who may be struggling to overcome challenges or difficult times, and help them realize that they aren’t alone. #fightstigma

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Hartford, or any of its affiliates, employees, or representatives.  This informational material shall not be considered medical or health advice. Consult your health care provider, mental health provider, counselor, or other health professional for assistance related to your healthcare, mental health, or overall wellbeing. The Hartford assumes no responsibility for any decisions related to your medical or health care.

One Response to "May Our Grief Transform Us"
    • Diane London | March 6, 2021 at 1:46 pm

      Well said. You have honored us all by your example of caring for others but more by being and example of how to self-care in the times of loss and grief. ♥️

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