Delaware holds Grief Awareness Week

When Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a proclamation making
the week of Nov. 1-7 Grief Awareness Week, two Chadds Ford area psychologists
gave, at least, a figurative thumbs up.

Both Lee Anderson of Kennett Township and Kayta Gajdos of
Chadds Ford Township are involved in grief counseling and they both view Grief
Awareness Week as a way to get people to realize how important it is to give
someone space and time to grieve over the loss of a loved one, even if it’s a
family pet.

Anderson has been serving as board president for Supporting
Kids, a center for grieving children and their families in Hockessin for three

She said she and a number of other organizations had a goal
earlier this year to, “recognize, with solidarity, those who are grieving and
pull together a coalition and ask the governor to sign a proclamation for

“We hope this will allow the community to remember to support
those who are grieving, to participate in community activities and educational
events to learn more about the grief process,” Anderson said. “Essentially we
want neighborhoods and faith communities and work places to be more supportive
for people who are grieving.”

Anderson said the theme for the week is “Expressing Grief, a
festival of Healing Through the Arts” and there will be an exhibit of healing
through art at Exceptional Care for Children, on Independence Way, Sunday
afternoon, in Newark from 1-5 p.m.

The exhibit will have art activities for people to take part
in, she said, as well as an art display from children and adults who have made
art as part of their own grieving process.

According to Gajdos,
dealing with grief properly involves truly “acknowledging loss in our lives,
and facing it squarely. In facing it, we’re not ignoring it, we’re not denying

Gajdos co-facilitates
a grief group in Delaware. She said there are some work places where employees
who have lost a family member are given ample time to grieve, to feel the loss,
but there are other work places where that is not the case.

In those
“non-empathic” workplaces, as she calls them, the acknowledgement of grief, of
the person’s need to grieve, is not there.

She added that grief felt
over the loss of a family member, or even that of a family pet, can bring with it
feelings of past loss as well. Sometimes that feeling is more acute when a pet
dies, she said.

Grieving is also
individualized, Gajdos said. Some people like to keep busy, while others need
to go inside themselves and feel it that way. What is important is that the
person grieving feels the various elements of the loss, the anger, the sadness
and the denial.

A person needs to
acknowledge that are grieving, she said.

“Acknowledge that you
are going to have different sensations, different bodily sensations. You’re
going to have different emotions arise. Be able to be aware of them, and to
honor them and acknowledge them. And then find methods of expression for them,”
she said.

That expression can
be through writing, music or art, but those methods are not limited to writers,
musicians and artists. “It’s meant for everyone.”

The wrong way to
grieve is to deny what you're feeling, even though there will be some denial
going on.

“But you need to know
you can’t remain in denial…. You can’t go around it. You have to go through

According to Gajdos, the main
reason for acknowledging grief in such a public manner is to bring to light
that people do suffer. While that is obvious, many times grief goes
unacknowledged or ignored, she said.

“Often in our culture
we often times have the idea that, ‘Someone has died and now you can move on.
It’s been a few days now, or it’s been a few months now.’ That isn’t the way
grief works,” she said. “It hits us in different moments.”

Gajdos added that
it’s not really accurate to refer to stages of grief. Feelings of anger and
sadness, or moments of denial are not stages, but come in various waves and at
different times.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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