It may seem strange to think about welcoming grief–a process that is painful and difficult for most people–but in reality, this time of profound sadness can be remarkably meaningful and rewarding.

As Queen Elizabeth II said, “grief is the price we pay for love.” Indeed, the process of grieving a lost loved one is a testament to the importance that person had in your life. While it can be tempting to try to distract yourself from your sadness, doing so can cause you to suppress your grief rather than move through it. Most people who try this approach find that their grief continues to try to push through the surface until they acknowledge and accept it.

This idea may feel intimidating or impossible at first, but it can help to have a better idea of what to expect from grief in order to move through it. So, what should grief look like? Grieving happens differently for everyone, so it’s important to recognize your unique process without judging it. You may even experience some positive emotions during the process—many long-time caregivers report a feeling of relief after their loved one passes away, for example—so don’t think that this makes you a bad person. It just means that you’re human.

Another aspect of grief that can vary is the timeline. You never really “get over” the death of a loved one, but you do adapt to your “new normal.” Some people navigate that journey more quickly than others. Furthermore, grief has a path of ups and downs. You may have several good days or even months at a time and then be struck out of nowhere by a bolt of sadness or regret. This is completely normal, and it says nothing about how effective or ineffective your grieving process has been.

Many people find it helpful to reach out for support during a time of bereavement. There are many support groups offered throughout the area, and this can be a good fit for people who tend to be more social. Others might fare better working one-on-one with a therapist, particularly if there are unresolved issues in the relationship that are affecting the grief.

Grieving is something that you get through not over. You are likely to learn valuable lessons along the way, so take each day as it comes. If you’d like to talk with a therapist to help you process your griefcall us at 412-422-0400.