National Grief Awareness Day
Debbie Vallandingham, LMSW-ASCW Director of Grief Care Services
August 30, 2021
National Grief Awareness Day is celebrated every August 30th and seeks to raise awareness of those who are working through loss. It helps to provide resources and reminds us to support people we know who are grieving. National Grief Awareness Day is a recent creation, established by Angie Cartwright in 2014 to encourage open communication on loss and bereavement and to better inform the public on the facts of grief.
A Short History of Grief
The term “grief” relates to loss. This loss can be almost anything, like the loss of a possession or aspects of your identity. It could be someone you love or something else that is important to you. Grief is also a natural response, regardless of the type of loss. It’s the emotional process that follows when you have something or someone taken away. It’s also the adaptation process, where you are learning to adapt to the loss of an object of love. Grief is how we reconcile losing that object, whether it’s a person or a thing. In fact, grief is one of the oldest and most enduring aspects of the human experience.
Throughout history, people have tried to describe and heal grief. In fact, people have been recording and honoring deaths since ancient times. In Rome, before the birth of Christ, daily records were collected in an ancient equivalent of a whiteboard called an “album.” This ancient version of Facebook provided the notice of births, marriages, and deaths. Fast forward to the 1600s where the life and death of aristocrats were celebrated in the newsbooks of Great Britain, the precursors to modern newspapers. In the 1800s, the modern notion of obituaries made their way to the United States. When the telegraph was invented, we were able to share stories and grief for distant deaths.
But in more recent years, scholars have turned their efforts to understanding grief and how we cope with loss. Between 1996 to 2006, progress was made in the understanding of grief as something that resisted any strict and chronological definition. In the 2000s, a more fluid understanding of grief, especially as a multifaceted and complex issue, has come to be understood and treated.
Why is grief care so important?
Grief impacts everything you do. It touches on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It is quite simply one of the most difficult things a person can ever go through. And this grieving process is an important part of learning to adapt to life without a treasured loved one. Grief care provides the much-needed support and education for those experiencing loss. This care can come in the form of one-on-one sessions, support groups, workshops, or events where grieving individuals can connect share and receive the support needed to process their loss.
How to Reflect on National Grief Awareness Day
Support a grieving friend
If a friend has been honest with you and shared a current story of grief or loss, today is the day to be an extra shoulder for them to cry on. While acknowledging that everyone processes their feelings differently, offer to support your friend in whatever way they need.
Engage in self-care
In the throes of grief, you may experience many different feelings of grief. Rather than attempting to push away your feelings, remember that there is no one path for those in mourning, and engage in self-care by letting yourself feel whatever you’re feeling.
Post on Social Media with the Hashtag: #NationalGriefAwarenessDay
Help National Grief Awareness Day accomplish its mission of educating the public on grief by sharing what you’ve learned on social media, creating a safe and healthy space for grieving people to share.