What (and When) Is National Grief Awareness Day?

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National Grief Awareness Day provides opportunities for communities of professionals, friends, and family to understand how we all cope with loss. In addition, we learn to help others manage their grief while raising awareness and erasing the stigma attached to suffering from the accompanying emotions, pain, and suffering.

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Let’s look at what and when National Grief Awareness Day is and discover a few ways to observe or get involved. Of course, no one is immune from loss, but there are many ways to join and either help ourselves or others manage the hurt without offering additional trauma.

What Is National Grief Awareness Day?

National Grief Awareness Day is a movement that began as a reaction to how our culture often stigmatizes and shames those who show that they are suffering from grief and bereavement. 

A community of professionals and laypeople gather to advocate for and validate how others work through their unique emotions. Participants learn better ways to show compassion, prepare for grief and build resilience, and offer support when anyone experiences loss—no matter the kind of loss.

With many opportunities to explore this national day to observe, reflect, and join in on the grief conversation, almost anyone can walk away feeling better informed on how to be a kinder, gentler support system for friends, family, coworkers, and strangers experiencing any one of the many types of grief.

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When Is National Grief Awareness Day?

National Grief Awareness Day has been observed annually on August 30th since 2014.

What’s the History Behind National Grief Awareness Day?

National Grief Awareness Day was founded in 2014 by Angie Cartwright, a woman who‘s experienced a great deal of loss throughout most of her life.

From losing a sibling at just five years old to other recent and devastating family traumas as an adult, she’s realized that grief is just another act of love. Now Angie shares that wisdom with others to create a community of healing.

How Can You Participate in National Grief Awareness Day?

Participating in National Grief Awareness Day is not celebratory by any means. Still, there are ways you can engage with others in your community or within your mind to acknowledge where you are, how you’re feeling, or ways that you can offer support.

Engage in self-care

Self-care is one of the last things people consider starting, so it’s the first item on this list. Though seemingly selfish, taking a moment to heal yourself not only benefits your mental health and outlook, but also your community. 

Self-care means taking time to heal your body, heart, and mind. It also means putting an end to the spinning internal commentary to acknowledge and even verbalize one's pain. However you can do that, through such things as meditation, yoga, massage, group therapy, and more, will help. 

Make and share a video

Destigmatizing grief helps support people throughout times of grief and loss. So, consider making a short video to share with others regarding your experience with loss if you are social media savvy. 

Post it online and ask your friends, family, or followers to share the story if they feel comfortable. From there, you can choose to open up for discussion or turn off the commentary to let the video speak for itself.

Use graphic design

Free graphic design resources are available for those more comfortable analyzing experiences through pictures. Create one or several posts for August 30th and the surrounding days.

Add a quote, poem, or story for greater impact. 

Plan a multi-film screening event

Gather with friends during an afternoon to watch 8:am The Film, Speaking Grief, Griefwalker, or any other film or documentary about bereavement, loss, and coping with grief.

After the film(s), hold a conversation session with your group to discuss the ways your community can expand and build upon the resources available to help others in need.

Theatre inspiration 

“Grief Dialogues” is a play uniquely written with healthcare professionals in mind. You can host the troupe or attend one of their performances.

Professionals in the medical and other caregiving industries will take in a story about death, dying, and grief as it is acted out on stage. 

An opportunity to dialogue and communicate will follow the play with the ambition of generating growth and improved understanding throughout all settings.

Attend or teach a professional course

Your healthcare team can attend a one-day course to learn why grief care is equally critical to supporting the recovery of one’s body as one’s mind. Then, with quizzes and opportunities for discussion, caregivers will have improved compassion and understanding.

Alternatively, as a clinical or therapy professional, you can host a series of courses for any of your clients to support recovery, understanding, and growth through grief.

Join a zoom or chatroom

Join a live zoom or chatroom on August 30th to communicate with others in the caregiving industry or those experiencing grief. 

Offer your story to others in support of destigmatizing the grief process so that healthcare and personal communities globally can grow, seeking relief together. 

Paint and create

Creative people will enjoy this activity as it involves so much of what they already love to do. Whether you’re a painter, sculptor, musician, or else, you have a unique gift that you can share with others. 

So, take to the canvas, potter’s wheel, or any other medium of choice and create something that helps you cope with loss or may help anyone else manage theirs.

Attend a conference

Learn about death midwifery, becoming a death doula, and more. Seek out conferences aimed at building a community of people wishing to support terminal patients and end-of-life grief.

Learn from global professionals and hear from others who’ve made careers by helping people accept the next inevitable part of the human journey.

Listen to a podcast

Tune into a bereavement podcast on the many provider stations to listen to professionals as they help others cope, heal, and thrive after loss. 

Grief is varied, as are the many podcasts available to support you through the journey you’re on. So, whether you’re looking for words of reflection for pet loss, ways to come up for air, opportunities to laugh, or out of plain curiosity for anything death-related, then there’s a podcast for you.

Afterward, take to social media and share your experience. Help others in your community find avenues for solace, healing, or education alongside you.

Become a speaker

Share your grief story with others as a public speaker. In this role, you’ll offer wisdom you’ve gained in ways that won’t minimize other’s pain, truth, or reality and engage them through the power of words. 

In addition, you may travel to global retreat and community centers, workshops, and more, offering support to others in a shared space of shelter, restoration, and growth.

Offer your empathy to others traveling the same road.

Read a book

With plenty of helpful books about grief to support grief and bereavement and all forms of loss, you’ll want to lead up to participation for this idea. 

Make this a book club option or pass it along after you’ve finished reading it. Do this so your community of support will grow, furthering the effort to destigmatize what every person experiences at some point in life.

Write a poem to keep or share

Use pen and ink, a typewriter, or your computer to compose a poem to keep or share with others. 

With so many opportunities to self-publish, you’re sure to find an appropriate location where others can read your poetry and learn something from its sentiment.

Watch a TEDx Talk

TEDx Talk has amassed a collection of resources available to you from professionals in just about any industry you can imagine. 

That library also includes grief professionals and other therapists who share their training and wisdom in short 15–20 minute info sessions.

Tune into one on the morning of August 30th, and let it guide your interactions with others for the day. Watch how your words and actions change to create a space of compassion for others.

At the end of the day, share your experience or the talk itself with others so that the community of interaction will flourish.

Talk about your loss

Normalizing grief helps others heal, which means that talking about loss is the crucial element of that process. 

Fear of commentary makes people bottle up their feelings, but talking about loss with others is one of the easiest, if not primary, ways you can express compassion or empathy.

After that, listen. 

Sign up for a retreat

Are you interested in becoming a death doula or death support professional of any kind? If so, check out any number of retreat opportunities offered locally or globally where you can learn to be one of the community grief sages. 

Then use your learned experience and wisdom to support people near death, those who have lost a friend or loved one, and anyone experiencing the pain of losing a beloved pet. 

Showing Support on National Grief Awareness Day

Normalizing grief helps others heal and cope with the struggles that accompany loss. By starting conversations, joining activities, and showing community support for all loved ones experiencing great suffering and pain, then we make room for hope and joy to fill the void carved out of our hearts from loss. 

For more information, check out how to help a grieving friend or recognize grief triggers and our guide on free grief counseling.


Sources:
  1. “17 of The Best Grief Podcasts To Help You Through This Difficult Time.” Scary Mommy, 2021. scarymommy.com
  2. Find a Speaker. Speaker Hub, 2021. speakerhub.com
  3. Grief Dialogues Healthcare Education. Grief Dialogues Education, 2021. griefdialogueseducation.com 
  4. Heal Grief – Build a Memorial, Write an Obituary, Light a Virtual Candle. HealGrief, 2018. healgrief.org
  5. Orphan Wisdom – Stephen Jenkinson’s Teaching House. Orphan Wisdom, 2021. orphanwisdom.com 
  6. Speaking Grief - The Documentary. Speaking Grief, 2021. speakinggrief.org
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