GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — When a loved one dies unexpectedly, it can have a devastating effect on family members.
Experts hope people recognize National Grief Awareness Day on Aug. 30 by taking take time to learn more about the grief process and create a space for loss.
Dr. Kristyn Gregory, medical director of behavioral health at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, says there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.
“People don’t necessarily go through all these stages in order. You don’t have to go through denial first to go into anger. They can kind of be all over the place,” Gregory said.
She said some of the stages can take longer or have a more profound effect on the person grieving.
“Sometimes talking through what you’re experiencing can help you feel better. Educating yourself on the cause of the unexpected death, joining a support group or recommending a loved one to join a support group, recommending that they journal to process the grief, practicing mindfulness exercises to stay grounded and help manage your emotions. During this process, taking time to for yourself is essential,” Gregory said.
Gregory recommended turning to some organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education and The Compassionate Friends for help and support.
Gregory said friends and family can help someone grieving simply by being there.
“Understand that maybe someone is not going to be comfortable necessarily talking about everything all at once, but sometimes just somebody being present and being with you and willing to listen can mean a lot,” Gregory said.