GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grief is something we all will likely experience over the course of our lifetime. Wednesday marks National Grief Awareness Day.

“Grief is the experience of processing what we think is going to be, or what we expect, and what the reality is. And so often, that is the process of loss,” said Shannon Bruin, a licensed clinical social worker with Thriveworks counseling and psychiatry in Grand Rapids. “That can be the loss of people we love, loss of experiences, changes in our life as well that we can’t go back to.”

There are five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But Bruin says the process is cyclical, not linear.

“Sometimes grief sneaks up on us and reminders come when we least expect them. And so we need to be patient with ourselves and patient with the process and allow there to be space to explore what grief means to us,” she said.

If a member of your family or a friend is experiencing grief, Bruin says to be patient.

“When we’re seeing that people are grieving, we need to give them space to do that. And sometimes that means being with them in their grief and sometimes it means allowing them to experience that on their own,” she said.