Q & A

What is grief?

Grief is experiencing a loss.  In our daily lives, we experience small and large bereavements; for example, the end of a job, the end of a friendship or the collapse of a dream. The bereavement of a loved one, the one for which LumiVie offers services, is definitive and will most likely have a significant impact on the rest of life.

Grieving takes time and energy. This journey is very personal. Even if different authors identify the stages of grief, we must first accept that the journey of grief, the way to live it and the duration are necessarily personal and cannot be compared to anyone else.

Every bereavement is unique, just as every relationship and every human being is unique.

Grief is a time of disruption. It takes time and a certain amount of patience for the bereaved person and those around him or her to experience the emotions, recognize the needs and move forward with some backward steps.

Accepting what is, is the way to a better well-being but it is a long process that often involves accepting not to accept.

What is the best way to grieve?

Unfortunately, there are no miracle recipes. But giving yourself the right to experience your pain, your anger, your sadness will allow you to have small moments of rest that will slowly increase in the process of your grieving.

It is a meaningful relationship that you have lost and sharing what you are going through with someone you trust feels good. It is your turn to need support and to receive empathy and affection. It’s about giving yourself the right to take care of yourself!

Why bereavement support?

We are unprepared, especially in our young and successful society, to go through the disorientation and emotional storm that the death of a loved one will bring.

Experiencing the death of a loved one is a painful experience, often misunderstood by the social and interpersonal environment, which, believing that it is helping in good faith, will contribute to spreading messages about grief that are sometimes false.

Coming to terms with the absence of a loved one takes a lot of time and energy, and the bereaved person is led to a real transformation of his or her life, values and sometimes choices.

The bereavement counsellor is a person outside your immediate circle. He or she can listen to you and help you through this tumultuous period.

Here are some testimonials from people who have experienced individual sessions:

“The sessions allowed me to get my emotions out.”

“What I appreciated most was feeling that I am not alone.”

“LumiVie has given me courage to move forward and through my grief.”

“I really appreciate always being reassured where I stand in the stages of grief. Thank you for making me feel normal.”

How does a support group work?

At LumiVie the groups are closed, meaning that you go through the 11 weeks of the program with the same people.

Each session is thematic and focuses on an aspect of grief. Participants share their experiences in complete confidentiality.

The bereavement counsellor leads the workshop and suggests activities.

Here are some testimonials from participants in a support group.

“Now I understand why the sessions last 11 weeks, we get to know each other and feel safe to share among people going through the same pain.”

“The sessions helped me to see people who are going through the same pain as me.”

“Very comprehensive and enriching as content. I came out of it grown and stronger”.

“I came out of my participation in the grief group as a stronger person. I would definitely recommend LumiVie to people I know who are going through a difficult grief.”

“My comment is that everyone who is experiencing grief should attend these sessions. We all need to be listened to and what you provide is very good!”

“I was able to allow myself to show my vulnerability and have hope for the future”

How can you help a bereaved person?

Your presence is important. You can support the person in her daily life and outings. Continue to offer to visit.

Your silent listening is valuable. Let the person speak and express their emotions and experiences. Allow them to talk about the person who has died, even if it causes them pain. Accept their grief and their tears; this is the path to recovery.

Involvement in daily life, cooking, shopping, babysitting, will be greatly appreciated. Ask her what she needs, don’t wait for her to ask

What are the needs of a grieving person?
  • The need to cry is normal.

  • They need to talk about the person who has died and tell stories.

  • At other times, he or she will need silence.

  • They may need you to suggest visits and activities. The important thing is to validate with her.

Knowing how to listen to a bereaved person
  • To listen is to receive, without judgement, or even pretending to understand.

  • To listen is to accept what is, even if it is uncomfortable for you.

  • To listen is to take the time to receive the other’s point of view, without imposing our own.

  • To listen is to understand the overall meaning of what is being expressed, rather than interpreting the words, especially if there is some confusion.

  • To listen is to let the other person speak, without correcting them, without trying to make them say anything.

  • To listen is to hold back our desire to help by giving advice.

  • To listen is to trust the other person’s inner abilities to make decisions, even if we would have done differently.

  • To listen is not to anticipate the other’s needs by proposing unsolicited actions.

  • To listen is to be present to the other person’s present moment

How to support a bereaved person?

Remind them of the role they play in your life. Grief takes so much energy that a bereaved person may wonder if he or she will still be able to contribute positively to his or her loved ones.

Gently remind her that even in pain, a part of her still has the capacity to love and be happy. It is precious to remind her that one day she will have access to happiness again.

Tell her that she has done, and is still doing, everything possible.

Help her reach out to friends, professionals or resources that could support her. Don’t hesitate to provide her with referrals to professionals.

Remind her of the inner resources that have helped her in the past.

Write her a note, an email, a text to let her know you are thinking about her.

Encourage her to be patient before making major changes in her life.

Be authentic with her and yourself. Acknowledge your own limitations. Be honest with her if you don’t feel able to listen or help her.

Learn about the grieving process.

What behaviours should be avoided with someone who is grieving?

When someone close to us is grieving, we may find it difficult to be there for them. Our desire to help them is challenged by our doubts about what to do and what to say. Here are some guidelines to help you:

  • Refrain from minimizing or denying the difficult emotions that the person is experiencing. Shame, anger, sadness or some other discomfort are common manifestations of inner disruption.
  • Avoid treating the person as someone who is now “different” from you
  • Refrain from encouraging him or her to be strong and to cope quickly with the loss
  • Above all, do not change the subject when the deceased’s name is mentioned
  • Avoid talking about your grief. Even if you do so to encourage the person, it is their grief that they need to talk about.
  • Refrain from telling the bereaved what they should do. Your encouragement is important, but the choice of action is theirs.
  • Do not tell the bereaved person that it could have been worse. While this may be true from your perspective, the bereaved person’s present suffering is real; the bereaved person has a right to experience that suffering.
  • Do not suggest alcohol or medication to the bereaved as a tool to make them feel better

From: Empty Cradle, Broken Heart by Deborah L. Davis. Golden CO: Fulcrum. Published in 1996

How do you cope with the holidays?

Just as the anniversary of the death of a loved one is a time when grief intensifies, there are other times of the year when the pain of grief is reactivated with force: the holidays.

How do you cope with these difficult times when you are grieving?

This is what we propose to address today. Like many people in mourning, you are certainly very sensitive to the arrival of the holidays.

If they could not exist, that would be the best thing, but they are so present that it is impossible to ignore them. What makes this time of year difficult is that it is associated with the idea of happiness and family intimacy: it can simply be unbearable for you because it is the opposite of what you are experiencing.

Don’t be a victim

Remember: you have lost a significant person in your life and you cannot ask yourself to be grateful.

Your feelings of distress around the holidays are completely normal because there is a huge contrast between what you are experiencing now and what you have experienced in the past. The key point is not to let yourself be victimized by the holidays.

Allowing yourself to be victimized means giving in to the pressure to be happy on Christmas Eve or December 31, whatever the cost. Understand that you can refuse this negative spiral and decide to react more positively, without asking the impossible of yourself. Determine where you stand with yourself and your family members.

Ask yourselves these questions together (as far in advance of the holidays as possible, so that you have time to reflect on them): “What do I really need – what do we really need – to get through this difficult period as smoothly as possible? What could be good for me – or for us? Invite everyone to make suggestions and try to come to a common decision that respects everyone’s wishes and needs

What you can do to take care of yourself

If you are concerned that certain family traditions are triggering too much of your pain, it may be necessary to change them. For example, the ritual of opening presents could be done in the morning instead of the evening; or the Christmas dinner could be held at another family member’s house if it is too stressful to have it at home.

This does not mean that you will never do Christmas at home again; it just means that for a year or two you will need someone else to take over. If, however, you want to take over the Christmas or New Year’s meal, remember that grief is a very tiring process. It is therefore important that you preserve yourself and that, again, you do not ask yourself to go beyond what you can give.

Don’t make the mistake of over-investing in the preparations just to prove to yourself, or others, that you are okay. Please don’t deny your inner exhaustion and feel free to delegate to other family members what you can’t handle right now. Gathering people you love around you can be a real source of joy and happiness. So accept that you are enjoying yourself, without feeling guilty about it.

Finding a little happiness for a few hours doesn’t mean you have forgotten about the person you’ve lost, or that you don’t miss them. This is not true: you know it. It is not a betrayal on your part. You have the right to enjoy the presence and affection of your loved ones. Instead, take these brief moments as a kind of break in the experience of your grief. You know that the pain will come back very quickly, don’t you?

Honoring the memory of the loved one

Celebrating Christmas or the end of the year may no longer have meaning for you now that your loved one is gone.

Nevertheless, you can give meaning to this time of year by including a tribute to the memory of your loved one in your celebrations. Silence and “pretending” do more harm than good.

Instead of spending the whole Christmas day thinking about the person who died, without daring to say his or her name, afraid that the whole family will fall apart, take the decision to explicitly honor his or her memory on that day. Try to define the most beautiful and appropriate way to remember him/her, without ruining the pleasure of being together. For example, you can put a picture of the person on the fireplace with a candle burning all day, and a family member can explicitly make a toast in their honor.

Everyone can also tell a happy memory that they shared with that person: don’t think that this will ” crash ” the party – Yes, there will be tears: how can it be otherwise? But the reality is that everyone around the table is thinking about the person who died. It is much healthier to cry and talk about them openly, for a few moments, than to remain silent all day and “pretend”: everyone risks suffering in silence, while Christmas is a rare opportunity to be together and honor the person who has died.

If the emotions are too strong and you can’t hold them back, accept them in humility: withdraw for a moment, in a quiet place, with someone close to you, to allow yourself to release your sadness. There is nothing wrong or inappropriate about this: it is a normal and natural expression of your grief. It is often better to have a good cry than to exhaust yourself trying to hold back tears, under the pretext of not wanting to bother your loved ones. They are sometimes much more shaken by someone who is silent and who fights internally not to show their pain than by someone who has the ability to recognize it and to show it. One year at a time…

And remember: grief is an evolving process; what you experience this year will be different from what you experience next year – and the year after that… The mistake would be to tell you that the end of the year will be a time of pain forever; that’s not true, even if you think we’re wrong when we tell you that.

So try to take it one year at a time, one Christmas at a time, without anticipating what the years ahead will bring. Please try, this year, to take care of yourself as best you can, as well as those you love, and really give yourself the means to honor, on this day, the sweet memory of the person you have lost.

From a text by Christophe Faure