Griefbursts: An Occurence in Grief

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 griefburstsGriefbursts, 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.

3 thoughts on “Griefbursts: An Occurence in Grief

    1. Thanks, Barbara, for forwarding your beautiful post about you and your mother. How wonderful that you had a lunch at Nordstrom Café in her memory. I do believe that it is these kinds of rituals that help us with our grief. Thanks again.

      1. Interesting, I’ve been thinking of my now-solo Nordstrom lunches in memory of lunching there with my mother as a way of celebrating her memory. But you point out that the lunches are a way of healing. I hadn’t thought of it that way– but clearly that’s what’s happening.

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