The notion that mourning is essential is one of the most important concepts relative to grief. Mourning transforms and eases the pain of grief, allowing us to come to a point in time when the death, loss, and grief are not a primary determinant of our daily life. To a large degree we live in a society in which the experience of grief is not considered to be of value. Mourning is often not recommended or supported, and guidance is absent. As a result, many of us find ourselves grieving without any means dedicated to fostering a healthy progression to a less painful and more stable time.
Mourning is intentional activities with the purpose of acknowledging the importance of the person who died, the experience of the death, and our life shared with them. Mourning makes allowance for the expression and validation of our grief, and can be a means for sharing the pain and disruption caused by the loss. Mourning activities that are personally meaningful, and relevant to the person who died and the life we shared are recommended.
Traditional rituals can be deeply comforting when they are fitting and relevant. Mourning in conjunction with a community can help sustain us through the difficult period of grieving. Grieving and mourning with others who remember, honor, and celebrate the life of the deceased diminishes our pain.
Personalized activities of mourning foster grief and provide comfort too. Creating a piece of art or poetry, going to a support group, a personalized ceremony, and creating a memorial are examples of personalized mourning.
Establishing regular times to mourn affirms the significance of the one who has died and our shared life. It is a way of acknowledging that we have suffered the loss and there is good reason for our grief. It facilitates a diminishment of our pain. By mourning in this way, our life with the deceased and our memories of them are owned, the current reality of life without them is accepted, and we adjust our life to this new reality while incorporating the experience and meaningfulness into who we are.
We live in a society in which it is common for bereaved people to be told, often within days or weeks of the death, that they must “move on” with their life. All to often this means, act like you are unaffected by the death and not in pain. Contrary to this ill advice, the way we truly “move on” in a healthy way is to mourn.