As a grieving person working toward healing, you have certain rights that others must not take away from you.
1. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPERIENCE YOUR OWN UNIQUE GRIEF.
No one else will grieve exactly the same way you do. Don’t allow others to tell you what you should or should not be feeling.
2. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO TALK ABOUT YOUR GRIEF.
Talking about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others who will allow you to talk about it as much as you want. If at times you do not feel like talking, you also have the right to be silent.
3. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FEEL A MULTITUDE OF EMOTIONS.
Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt, and relief are just a few of the emotions you might feel as part of your grief journey. Find listeners who will accept your feelings without conditions.
4. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE TOLERANT OF YOUR PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL LIMITS.
Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you feeling fatigued. Respect what your body and mind is telling you.
Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. And don’t allow others to push you into doing things you don’t feel ready to do.
5. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPERIENCE “GRIEFBURSTS.”
Sometimes, out of nowhere, a powerful surge of grief may overcome you. This can be frightening, but is normal and natural. Find someone who understands and will let you talk it out.
6. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE USE OF RITUAL.
Funerals and other healing rituals acknowledge the death of someone loved and provide a way for you to mourn with the support of caring people. If others tell you these rituals are silly or unnecessary, don’t listen.
7. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO EMBRACE YOUR SPIRITUALITY.
If faith is a part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your beliefs. If you feel angry with God, find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of your feelings of hurt and abandonment.
8. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEARCH FOR MEANING.
You may find yourself asking, “Why did he or she die? Why this way? Why now?” Some of your questions may have answers, but some may not. Clichéd responses from others such as “It was God’s will” or “Think of what you have to be thankful for” are usually not helpful. You don’t have to accept them.
9. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO TREASURE YOUR MEMORIES.
Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. You will always remember. Instead of ignoring your memories, find others with whom you can share them.
10. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO MOVE TOWARD YOUR GRIEF AND HEAL.
Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself; avoid people who are impatient and intolerant with you. The death of someone loved changes your life forever.
Adapted from “The Mourner’s Bill of Rights” by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., C.T., www.centerforloss.com