Isn’t mourning the same thing as grief?

close up of tea light candle against black background
Photo by George Becker on

In our culture, we use grief and mourning interchangeably. There’s quite a big difference between the two! According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt at the Center for Loss and Life Transition, grief is “the constellation of internal thoughts and feelings we have when someone we love dies.” Mourning is when “you take the grief you have on the inside and express it outside of yourself. Another way of defining mourning is grief gone public.” Many times people ask me what they can do to help with their grief. Mourning is actually something that someone can do to help process and release tough emotions. It can be something like a daily or weekly ritual or something as spontaneous as a visit to the cemetery or lighting a candle. As a grief and loss counselor, although I love my work doing individual/family counseling. I also love to introduce people to the many ways that grief can be expressed through mourning activities or experiences.

Throughout the year I offer various workshops and groups that invite people to experience different ways to mourn. Last year I held a shadowbox workshop (The Art of Creative Mourning) where people brought in photos, mementos and special possessions of their loved one and they arranged them in shadowboxes. This was a very meaningful activity as people reminisced and shared about the items they brought as they created a beautiful memorial to their loved one. I have also offered a Mindfulness for Grief and Loss program as well as Forest Therapy. This coming Friday, November 22nd I am hosting a Make and Take Greenery Workshop with the help of local designer and artist Lisa Gillespie. We will create fresh greenery arrangements to take home and use as centerpieces or as mailbox or headstone covers. My hope is that through this mourning activity, people will have an opportunity to be able to honor their loved ones as they create something that brings meaning and remembering. I believe that mourning experiences are always available to us, we just have to be open and receptive to trying different ways to connect. As an example, some people like to journal and some do not but it’s important to be curious about the different ways that you can express mourning. Watching old videos, looking at pictures, creating art, writing, telling stories, participating in a ritual or simply crying can all be ways to mourn. If you have found something that has particularly helped you mourn, please share it here if you would like. If you would like to register for the Greenery Workshop just follow the Register link on my website or contact me at 240-298-2442 or The last day to register is this Wednesday, November 20th.

Published by melindaruppertlcpc

I am a licensed clinical professional counselor in Maryland specializing in grief and loss.

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