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Grief Bursts

Recently, I have found myself thinking about my mother, even though she died 24 years ago when I was just a seven year-old girl. However, as I’m running a new business, I wish more and more she was around. She was a business woman and I am finding myself wishing that I had her to bounce ideas off of or get support from. During these times, I find myself grieving her in a new way.

So often, I’m asked the question about what is happening when people experience these moments of grief, even years after the initial loss. These are called “Grief Bursts.” They are those moments of intense grief or sadness that are experienced after the active grief process has been completed. These bursts are a normal experience in the bereavement process. These bursts do no have to be death related, but can happen with any kind of non-death related loss such as a breakup (loss of relationship), job loss or moving/transitioning to a new phase in life such as going off to college, getting married and having children, moving, etc.

What Brings on Grief Bursts?

Grief Bursts are triggered by many things. They can happen at certain times of the year, such as an anniversary or birthday. They can happen in certain environments that may have been shared or remind someone of their loved one.

How do I cope with Grief Bursts?

So often, the initial response is to avoid these Grief Bursts by staying away or ignoring these triggers. These bursts are uncomfortable. When people experience distressing/uncomfortable emotions, it is common for people to want to steer clear of these feelings. However, avoidance does not make these or other distressing emotions easier. In fact, there is a paradoxical effect and this can actually make those feelings of grief more intense and long lasting.

Instead, it is beneficial to experience Grief Bursts as they come. Yes, you may cry. It may not feel comfortable in the moment. But remembering that this moment is fleeting is important. Reminding yourself of the importance of your loved one or life changed can also help to make this experience feel more normal.

During times where grief bursts are more common, it is important to take care of yourself and use self-care. As any griever can attest to, grief is exhausting. Self-care is an important part of this process. It doesn’t have to cost a lot such as cooking your favorite meal for dinner, taking a walk or a bath, even taking 10 minutes to breathe or mediate. (Our friends at What’s Your Grief have written many articles on the topic of grieving after a loss. Check them out for more ideas.)

If Grief Bursts become too overwhelming, it is important to reach out to someone for help. Your family and friends can provide the much needed support for these times. Also, seeking counseling from an experienced grief professional can be helpful.

Remember that Grief Bursts are a normal part of the grieving process. You are not alone.

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