Once upon a time, the United States supported a culture of grief. When friends wore black outfits or armbands, we understood they were mourning, and supported them accordingly. Perhaps we did this by reaching out, by asking about their loved one or by simply recognizing that the entire first year was bound to be a roller coaster of grief.
Today, we no longer have such traditions to guide us. As a result, many of us mourn alone, cut off from our loved ones. Well-meaning friends and neighbors drift away after the first few weeks, unsure how to help, while the mourner retreats further and further into his or her shell, overwhelmed by all the new changes, with no clear path to follow.
It’s time to change that. It’s time to acknowledge that grief is a very real and important process—one that forever after changes us, as well as the larger community.
We can do this in small, simple ways:
In these ways, we learn to support ourselves during the mourning process, just like we learn how to support others. And somewhere along the way, we begin to remember the true meaning of life: who we are, why we’re here and where we’re going. And we remember the extraordinary power of love.