Grief Aid 

William Howatt Ph.D., Ed.D.

2014 © Howatt HR

Everyone can master a grief but he that has it.
William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act III, scene 2

Grief is a normal response to a loss that consumes physical and emotional resources. The stages of grief are similar to those of death, divorce, break-ups, and recovering from addictive disorders. The purpose of this tool is to facilitate awareness of where you are today in the grieving process. It is normal for you to feel extremely tired, become withdrawn, have difficulty concentrating, imagining a loved one’s voice, and experiencing symptoms of depression (i.e., sadness, loss of appetite, uncontrollable crying). Depending on the culture, grieving up to a year is not unusual, though many who grieve will find some sense of change in their grieving within six months. Note, however, that grief symptoms may return for brief periods around special days (i.e., anniversaries).

About one-third of those who grieve will show symptoms of depression within a month of the loss. For this reason, it is important to be proactive and embrace grieving as a normal way to heal. However, if the grief is as intense after two weeks as it was at the moment of loss, reaching out to grief counselling through your EAFP or local mental health providers is recommended. A trained grief counsellor will assist you to normalize and move through Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief. As Kübler-Ross observed, "when you learn your lessons, the pain goes away"1.

Before using this tool, keep in mind that there is no "right way" to grieve. This is merely intended to help you appreciate what stage of grief you are currently experiencing, and that you are not alone in these experiences. Grief is not a linear process, but it is a process and there is an ending. Strangely, resisting this natural process may simply result in intensifying the symptoms. Each person will move through the grief process at the speed that is right for them. The more you are aware of what is normal, the more you will be able to accept how you are reacting. This will also help regain your awareness of what life still has to offer.

Core Goal: To provide you with an awareness of where you are in the grieving process. Some people find it a comfort to have a benchmark and to repeat this tool in the coming weeks and months to show that you are on the path to healing. You can also take your results from this tool to a grief counsellor if you feel you are getting stuck in one of the five stages.