Grieving VS Mourning- What’s the Difference?
by Isis Taylor
Dr. Alan Wolfelt describes grief as the internal thoughts and feelings we experience when a loved one dies. Grief is personal. It’s private. It’s within.
Wolfelt describes mourning as “grief gone public”. It’s our outward expression of our grief. Authentic mourning, which Wolfelt says is “openly and honestly expressing their thoughts and feelings from the inside to the outside – no pretense, no repression, no inhibitions” is a healthy and productive way for families to adjust to their lives post-death.
But really, why is this distinction important?
It’s important because knowledge is power, and bereaved individuals are often left powerless due to the lack of awareness and conversation around grief and mourning. We know that our society’s grief-avoidant culture comes with many consequences. And who feels those consequences the most? Our children. As adults, we’re constantly sending messages to children, and when it comes to grief, what we’re saying is “keep quiet”.
Changing the way our society deals with death starts with knowledge. For those who are bereaved, accurate and well messaged knowledge is paramount, because it helps them to understand and process their own experiences in a healthy way. Education is vital for non-bereaved individuals, too, for the more they know, the better they can support those who are bereaved.
Isis Taylor, Program Manager