Good Grief...

Have you experienced a recent loss and feeling like you are unsure of how to “move forward’? Are people telling you to just “get over it” or that “there are more fish in the sea” but you just can’t seem to think that way? Do you find yourself feeling sad, in pain, unmotivated, isolating yourself, anxious or broken hearted? You are likely experiencing the normal reaction to a loss, called grief.

Grief is perhaps an unknown territory for you. You might feel both helpless and hopeless without a sense of a 'map' for the journey. Confusion is the hallmark of a transition. To rebuild both your inner and outer world is a major project.”
- Anne Grant

Grief is a normal reaction to a loss of any kind. This loss may include the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a separation or divorce, a pet, a job, a move or any change to a familiar pattern in our life.  As a society, we tend to hold some myths about grief. These myths include that one should grieve alone, that one shouldn’t be sad. A loss is a loss and there is no “acceptable” list of what is okay to grieve, whether a person, place or thing. Oftentimes, people need help working through the emotions surrounding the loss to move forward and to feel happiness again.

If you are struggling with the emotions related to grief, try these 8 “good grief” tips:

  1. You don’t have to grieve alone. Talk about your grief with loved ones, family members, trusted professionals including counsellors, your doctor, a spiritual leader or another person you trust.
  2. Grief is a journey, not an event. Recognize that completing the loss takes time and there is no “quick fix”. Allow yourself permission to treat it like a process, which can help to reduce any guilt you may be holding about not being able to “just get over it”. That’s normal. It’s a process.
  3. Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Often, people who are grieving tell me they hold it inside to try to reassure others that they are “okay”. It’s time to let go of the Oscar worthy performance and to acknowledge the emotions, the totally normal emotions, that come with a loss. It’s okay to not be okay. Try sitting in the emotion, journaling how you are feeling, and recognize that feelings such as guilt, sadness, relief, hopelessness, anger and longing are a totally normal response to a loss.
  4. Grief work TAKES work. Be okay with putting in the work to resolve the feelings, the sense of needing fulfillment from the lost loved one and finding forgiveness from within. The work may be painful but the way to move forward is to dive deep into the work and be realistic about your needs.
  5. Seek out other grievers. We do not need to grieve alone. Support groups such as the groups offered by Bereaved Families of Ontario can help. Support groups help to normalize our experiences and remind us that we are not alone.
  6. Write your loved one a letter. You may wish to write down what you might say to your loved one should you be able to speak to them one more time. You may want to detail what it’s been like without them, list some apologies or statements of forgiveness, or maybe just share with them how you’ve managed since the loss. Writing this letter may help you work through your grief.
  7. Grief can be confusing. There are many complicated feelings that come with grieving the loss of a loved one. These feelings can be confusing or overwhelming. They can be conflicting especially if there are factors that might have complicated the loss. A grief counsellor can help you manage these feelings.
  8. Take care of yourself. Self-care is critical during times of loss. Notice if exercising helps you to feel better. Nourish your body and your mind through healthy meals and meditation. See your doctor. Stay connected to your needs.

Grief tries to rob us of social support, please remember that you are not alone. If you are struggling in your journey of completing your grief, grief counselling can help.

For more information on grieving, check out this TEDTalk by Dr. Geoff Warburton.

I also recommend The Grief Recovery Handbook by John James and Russell Friedman for more information on the myths of grieving and strategies to overcome a loss.

by Megan Rafuse MSW RSW, social worker and psychotherapist

Introducing the "Spring Tune-Up"

Spring is here (finally)! Mother nature is transitioning us from a stagnant winter to a time of renewal, growth and change.  Spring lends to us a feeling of hope for what's to come and a desire to purge the weight of winter to allow us a sense of lightness in our being. 

For many of us, we follow a tradition of spring cleaning. A ritual that helps us to clear the clutter of our lives that has accumulated over the winter and allow for space to start anew. Like the arrival of spring, our minds can use a time of change. A shift in perspective, a defining of goals, a seeking of answers and desire for growth. My clients often tell me they are most inspired in spring as they can feel change in the air. It's electric. I want to help guide you into your goals through thoughtful reflection, concrete strategies, and allowing a respectful space of sharing and openness. 


That's where the "Spring Tune-Up" comes in. I'm offering a three session package of in-person sessions (weekly for three weeks) to transform you from the winter state of mind to one of increased motivation and hope. The Spring Tune-Up is aimed at providing direction and guidance on how to maintain this sense of hope and challenge any clutter in your mind that may be distracting from and inhibiting your ability to change. I'm offering this package for $285, a savings of $75, for new clients who would like to set goals, develop strategies to meet those goals and challenge old ways of thinking to make way for new perspectives. 

For more information, please contact me via email at info@meganrafuse.com or fill out the contact form here for a quick reply. I look forward to ushering in spring, reducing mental clutter and inspiring change!