10 Core Principles of Being Grief-Informed

To become grief-informed begins with the initial step of identifying and embracing ten core principles about grief

These core principles involve recognizing what grief is and best practices for supporting people who are grieving:

1. Natural. Loss is a normal, inevitable, and universal human experience. People have an innate capacity to adapt to loss and function healthily.

2. Complex and Nonpathological. Grief is an adaptive, nonpathological response to loss. Grief is complex and complicated because people and relationships are complex and complicated.

3. Contextual. Grief is not solely an individual experience; grief is interwoven in a sociocultural context, influenced by family, community, and other social systems. Acknowledging and addressing the sociocultural and historical factors that impact grief can reduce disparities and promote equity and inclusion.

4. Disruptive. Grief challenges our identity, relationships, beliefs, and assumptions about the world and our role in it.

5. Relational Connection and Perceived Support. Having people who care and support us after a loss helps us navigate the changes in our lives. Feeling heard and having people to share with helps us know we’re not alone in our grief.

6. Personal Empowerment and Agency. Experiencing loss and grief can make us feel helpless or out of control. Choosing our own healthy responses, rather than what others tell us to do or not do, can help us regain a sense of balance and person “agency.”

7. Safety. Experiencing loss challenges our sense of safety in the world. Paying attention to our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs will help us cope with all the changes that happen after a loss.

8. Person-centered. The intensity and experience of grief are unique for every individual.

9. Dynamic. The dynamic nature of grief cannot be fully captured by stage, phase, or other prescriptive models. There are no universally acceptable or “correct” ways to grieve.

10. Nonfinite. Loss is interwoven into our identity; therefore, grieving is not a finite experience. Grief doesn’t have some magical end point. We can grieve someone throughout our lives.

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