Grief is our way of responding to loss, or any kind. Grief can be incredibly painful and overwhelming for anyone. For people of color (POC), who often face unique challenges and disparities, the grieving process can look different than for those in the majority. Here are some ways that grief may show up for POC.
Grief may manifest as physical pain in the body
Grief can be tough to understand and process, and it can take on many forms. One way grief is often expressed is through physical pain in the body – a distinct ache that seems almost impossible to describe. If this is something you’re experiencing, know it’s completely normal to feel your grief manifesting this way. It’s important not to let yourself believe there must necessarily be another cause for your physical pain—sometimes, grief itself can be enough. Try paying attention to where the physical pain is located as a tool for understanding what might be causing it. If you need help managing your emotions and understanding how best to cope with your grief-related physical symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact a counselor or therapist for professional assistance.
It may show up as anger or irritability
POC often experience anger or irritability as a result of the systemic oppression they face daily. You don’t have to be the one oppressing POC for this emotional weight to affect you – it can spread like wildfire, making seemingly mundane tasks and interactions difficult. Everyone is human, after all! It’s important to consider how POC may feel given their experiences and to try to provide understanding instead of avoidance when you sense the tension in any situation. With open communication and understanding, POC can feel seen, heard, and appreciated – always leading with empathy can go a long way.
POC may feel disconnected from others and experience social isolation
People of color can face several challenges in their day-to-day lives, including feeling disconnected from others and experiencing social isolation. This is not only emotionally difficult but can also lead to a sense of exclusion or alienation towards entire communities. Everyone should feel comfortable accessing the help they need, especially when they are feeling alone. Talking to friends and counselors, joining local groups, and participating in online support networks are great ways to combat feelings of disconnection and loneliness. Making a genuine effort to reach out to one another is an important step in creating an environment that values diversity and encourages openness.
Guilt, shame, and regret are common among those grieving
Grief is a natural part of life and the journey of healing can be difficult. While feelings of guilt, shame, and regret are common among grievers, it’s important to remind ourselves that these emotions are perfectly normal. It’s okay to feel them and it’s essential to process them in order to take steps towards healing. A good place to start is to talk through your feelings with people who can help you make sense of what you’re going through. Talking about the experience is an incredibly powerful way to move forward through grief and let go of emotions related to guilt, shame, or regret.
Sadness and depression are also common symptoms of grief
Grief is a normal and natural response to a traumatic loss. It can have a variety of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms such as sadness, shock, anger, confusion, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, guilt, numbness and loneliness. Many people also feel overwhelmed or hopeless during this time. While these feelings are common and natural experiences of grief, it is important to recognize when they become excessive or seemingly uncontrollable – which could indicate the presence of depression. If you experience strong feelings of sadness that last for an extended period of time and start to interfere with your day-to-day functioning, it is important to seek help from professionals in order to help you cope with your loss and find healing.
POC may grieve in different ways than what is considered “normal”
Grieving can be a difficult process for anyone, and it is especially hard for people who are part of a marginalized group. People of color may experience unique forms of grief due to the history and context of their lives. It is important to remember that grievers should be allowed to express their emotions without judgment or interruption. This could take many forms, such as talking, writing or even art. Mourning and processing sadness is an extremely personal experience, and so it is imperative that everyone undergo it in their way without feeling like they have to fit into society’s standard expectations of grief.
Grieving can be a difficult and complicated journey to undertake. People of color have unique experiences with grief and may find themselves estranged from those around them. Physical pain, anger, guilt or shame, depression or sadness, and other issues are common symptoms of grief and can make it hard to move forward. It can also be challenging to grieve in ways that are viewed culturally as “normal” if environments don’t often embrace non-white methods of mourning. Although the road may be arduous and filled with pitfalls, understanding your grief is possible with support, recognition, and self-love. We acknowledge this issue and want to help people of color process their grief in whatever way is best for them.
If you are feeling the aftermath of a loss or struggling with grief as someone from a marginalized community, don’t hesitate to access the resources available to you. Contact us today to help you find comfort, begin healing and navigate grief in an uplifting way that centers your needs as a person of color.