Grief is an ongoing process, and I can't say enough how it's an individual and personal journey. However, a lot of people who've been there agree there are things that help...
Like lots and lots and lots of support.
To other families going through any kind of loss, I’d say, make sure you have great support. To professionals, I’d say make sure the families you work with have a support system, or can build a support system. No one should go through this journey without support, and yet many times primary support systems are cut off through death or loss. To further complicate matters, in loss, it's normal to want to cut yourself off from people, because it’s hard to share and explain what you’re going through. When you are open to support, you will find that people can give support in their own way. Some people will understand, and can listen. Other people will be good at helping. Others are good at saying the right thing at the right moment. Others are validating. Let everyone help in their own way.
And don't forget the self-care!
Find ways to take care of yourself. Take breaks, even small ones. Sometimes that’s all there is. I felt like it was difficult to take time for myself when the list of needs and demands of my children was endless, but I knew I had to do it. I learned to take advantage of breaks whenever and wherever I could. I remember even finding quiet corners of the hospital while my children were attending grief groups to just read, write, think, and even cry. Some days breaks were in the form of a lazy day around the house. Other times, I’d just work in the yard, or read. Once Tim and I had a “date” eating dinner at the hospital cafeteria while our children were in their grief group. Another time my husband and his brother who lost his wife arranged for all of our girls to go to a concert while I took all the boys to a corn maze. It was so great to see them all forget for a little while about tragedy, and just be kids again. We learned from this, and continued to find ways to let our kids be kids, and that in itself was a break. Another time one of my sisters and her husband offered to stay overnight with our children while Tim and I got away. It was hard on them, but our children got to spend time with cousins, and it never felt so good to sleep in!
Once again, everyone has to grieve in their own way. It’s a process. Healing is also a process, one which I now see as a journey rather than a destination. And healing isn’t all about grief. It’s also about joy in little things and is enriched by appreciating how fragile life can be, and realizing that new memories and experiences are just as real as the loss. Healing is more about how you live through grief than forgetting the pain or being better. We’ve learned that as life goes on, so do we. We grieve; we love; we cry; we laugh; we celebrate; we pray; we live; we heal.