Grief is a peculiar thing.
It comes into our lives when we experience a tower moment.
Usually death, but while that will be our main subject, it should be noted that there are other types of change that can cause us to grieve deeply.
However grief finds you, something they all have in common is that it’s personal. And it’s not always easy to talk about it with just anyone.
With life still needing to be lived, the signs may not be obvious.
But if someone mentions death in these 8 contexts, they may be grieving.
1) On social media
Sometimes, an obituary can be a series of photos and reposts of digital memories.
Or perhaps a message board catered to those grieving.
And because grief has no timeline, remembering a loved one can become a regular part of someone’s life.
Especially with so many platforms having anniversary features, it really is a time capsule of sorts.
Beyond a time capsule, a lot of people use social media as a public diary. And while it can be hard to talk about, it’s harder to hold it in for some people.
So a middle ground could be a person’s Instagram so they can get it out of their system and reach out for support at the same time.
For those who aren’t an open book of pixels, they may share posts that raise awareness. For example, if their loved one passed from an illness.
2) Sharing awareness on and offline
Death can change the way we view life on a great scale.
When we lose someone we love, that space becomes a void of what we used to know. And a part of filling that void in a healthy way might include acting of service.
It helps us honor people that have passed, as well as offer us a way to stay connected to them.
Other than sharing infographics or statistics that help educate others online, raising awareness can go beyond the internet.
Those that are grieving may turn to serving their community tangibly. Like attending marathons, or fundraisers that are related to their loss.
Not everyone will understand what you’re going through, which makes this a really helpful way to address grief because it can connect you to the right people.
3) In group settings
This can include communities that people find through their charitable acts, or support groups specifically regarding death.
There are even Death Cafés! Which are places that host events to bring together groups of people to discuss death freely, over some tea and pastries.
But a group setting can also include a person’s regular social circle.
Depending on what stage of grief they are at, they may not be fully transparent about what happened.
So if someone tells you about a recent loss, they’re looking for support. In addition, it’s their way of maintaining structure as they question everything.
Speaking of questioning, if they aren’t ready they may mention death in a way to understand what it means.
They may be seeking closure as to what might have happened to their loved one. Because grappling with the unpredictability and impermanence of life can be a lot.
And it’s not uncommon for them to seek religious support as they work through this.
4) In religious settings
A lot of people turn to spirituality because death is hard to understand without a metaphysical lens. It’s something that none of us can prepare ourselves for.
And having faith in a God or a higher power can offer certainty during a time of uncertainty.
Attending places of worship like a church or temple might be a temporary instance, but it can also become a permanent practice depending on how it helps them make sense of it all.
Spirituality is also something that can help people broaden their perspective on life. So pondering about death even if you haven’t lost someone isn’t unusual.
In fact I remember when I went through a spiritual awakening, I grieved the loss of relationships, a past self and my own life.
And reframing my ideas surrounding death happened naturally as I learned about the importance of transmutation and transformation.
5) During important milestones
On the topic of transmutation and transformation, grief can mark a low point in a person’s life.
It requires one to dismantle everything they’ve ever believed in, or even a routine that they relied on.
Adjusting to a new reality will require a person to grow and turn that pain into wisdom.
So bringing it up to celebrate how far they’ve come from that point during an important milestone can be extremely empowering.
It may even be the only way to explain the feeling you get as you move through the grieving process, and change as a result of it.
You could even say that grief is just as much about loss, as it is about growth.
6) In work environments
It’s necessary we talk about how your professional life becomes impacted when you grieve.
It’s where you spend a majority of your time, yet it’s not exactly encouraged to get all personal with everyone.
Especially if you want to maintain a healthy work life balance and social boundaries.
So if someone brings up a death even in a vague sense, it’s likely they are grieving and need to be accommodated so they don’t risk disrupting that balance.
On the other side of the spectrum of grief, some people may even switch their careers due to their experiences.
They may orient their life to make serving their community a full-time job!
For example, some people become motivational speakers to spread awareness about certain issues.
Or they might even make grief their personal niche and help others process it in a way that can inspire them.
7) In their art
Art, like spirituality, is a powerful tool that can help us understand complex concepts like death.
It’s a metaphysical place where there are little to no rules, and encourages us to explore ideas that might be too taboo for the dinner table.
So just as social media can help make being candid and reaching out more feasible, so can art.
This isn’t exclusive to writers, musicians or visual artists that showcase their work publicly.
It could be anyone and everyone that decides to give creativity a go to help manage their emotions.
Using art as a form of therapy can also introduce people to new hobbies and passions that inspire them to change careers or lifestyles.
Therefore it’s not uncommon for a lot of artists to have their “artist awakening” during a time of grief and use it to find a new direction in life.
8) In personal conversations
It may come out with no warning if they’re still trying to figure out how to feel.
It’ll be awkward and confusing. And it’s important to know that if a person you love is grieving, all you can do is lend a listening ear.
You should also connect them to services offered by people who are experts in this matter so that they can be supported properly.
Because grief is an isolating feeling, what people really need in these moments is someone who understands so they can be reassured that they’re going to be okay.
After a person has processed their emotions and are more comfortable with their grief, they may talk about it again.
But it will feel different.
They might share their future plans and how death helped them be more decisive. Or how it changed the way they viewed the world.
That’s a huge sign that they’ve got to the other side of grief – acceptance.
It’s where they’ll spend the rest of their life, and it’s where grief shares a home with peace.
The 5 stages of grief offers us an opportunity to identify what we may be feeling
But by no means is it a map.
Because grief is something that never ends, and not everyone processes their emotions the same.
So while you can tell a person is grieving from their mentions of death, some signs of grief will be silent.
It’ll be evident in the way a person has rebuilt their life from the ground up, strengthened by an acceptance that nothing lasts forever.
And softened by a way of commemorating all they’ve lost with honor.