A few months after my dad’s death seventeen years ago, I attended my first meeting of a grief support group. I was new to a group like this; I’d never attended a support group before. But I chose to attend because I needed extra support, and this seemed like a good place to go. So one Saturday morning in January, I put on my winter coat and headed downtown.
The meeting started with a speaker, typical for these types of groups. Feeling tender, I sat amongst the others as our speaker talked about some aspect of grief. I don’t remember his specific topic, but I do remember how I felt as he spoke. As I listened to his talk, so gently expressed, the rawness of my grief opened up. I wasn’t expecting this, and I tried hard to contain my tears. It was hard work to keep my tears from overflowing.
Alan Wolfelt, author of Understanding Your Grief*, has a name for these unexpected moments of emotion. They are called griefbursts. Griefbursts, sometimes called grief attacks, are those sudden, surprising eruptions of deeply-felt grief. We may be having a good day, feeling strong, when suddenly something, anything—a song, a commercial, a movie, a remark, or seemingly nothing at all—causes our grief to explode in powerful emotions.
The important thing to remember, says Wolfelt, is that griefbursts are normal. When we understand this, we can be more patient and understanding toward ourselves and our own mourning process. Be kind to yourself, knowing that this is part of the journey of grief.
*published by Companion Press, Fort Collins, CO.