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Grieving after a loss seems to have a short lifespan in this day and age, but a local mental health expert is encouraging people to learn to grieve well. 

"One thing I’ve really noticed is that so many of us don’t seem to know how to grieve well," says the Clinical Director of Recovery of Hope, Wayne Friesen "Grief and loss are a part of the human story and we all have different experiences with it. We’ve all heard of the stages of grief referenced before but how do we move through them well?"

According to Friesen, grief isn’t something that can be hurried but it can be stunted. It can also pile up when a person doesn't engage in their grief.

"One of the first things to be mindful of when we talk about grief is that it’s an individual experience that has a lot of universal applications. The type of loss we experience can play a part but there are many, many parts to grief that are so nuanced that we need to be careful at guessing what the process should look like, for others and for ourselves. Often it’s suggested that the first 6 months after death is considered a time of mostly shock. It’s our bodies trying to absorb the impact, our brains trying to make sense of what’s happened. Those first 6 months are full of details, of planning and taking care of the essentials. Often at the 6-month mark, people find themselves in a new stage of grief."

Every person will experience grief at some point in their lives, which makes it important to grasp that grieving is okay. 

"Immediately after we lose someone, shock settles in. Even if death is anticipated often people say, 'I knew it was coming but the last time is still the last time.' Often people will feel the need or at times the compulsion to talk about what has happened, especially if it’s a sudden or accidental death. That is healthy and we need to provide room for it. It’s the brain trying to make sense of the greatest futility we’ll ever face." 

With unexpected deaths, Friesen encourages people to allow themselves the time to properly process it and be gentle with themselves in that process.

"Don’t give yourself a timeline of when you should be done grieving. Grief is unpredictable and has its own way of moving through us. You’ll be surprised by grief at times and there may be very strange links to the sadness that comes up. You’ll have days or weeks where you may feel like yourself again and then out of the blue you may find yourself being very teary or frustrated by your loved one’s absence. Don’t work too hard at “figuring it out.” Sometimes you’ll discover a reason but so often it’s just grief coming to the surface. The best thing we can do is to make room for it when possible, and allow ourselves to feel the frustration, anger, or sadness when it comes up."

While grief is a part of life, it doesn't mean it's an easy place to be. 

"One of the best things we can do is to practice grieving the smaller losses in life. Can we grieve our pets, a friend moving away, our kids moving out of the house, changing jobs, etc? Life really is about saying goodbye to our losses, especially as we get older. If we can make a practice of being careful to not dismiss or push aside the things we lose, we’ll be in better shape to move through the bigger losses. If we can’t make room, grief will make room for itself and when that happens we’re often caught off guard by the abruptness of its presence."