What Is National Grief Awareness Day?

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated September 18, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Loss can be among the most challenging human experiences an individual can face. Coping with grief is seldom easy, whether you've lost a loved one or something you valued. National Grief Awareness Day, on August 30th of every year, is generally designed to raise awareness for the experience of grief, which can encompass a complex range of emotions. To recognize National Grief Awareness Day, you might take time for self-care, join a support group, and remember those you’ve lost. If you’re struggling to cope with grief, consider working with a therapist online or in person to get professional support.

What Is Grief?

Are You In The Process Of Grieving A Loved One?

Grief can be a complex human emotion that almost everyone experiences differently. It's usually caused by some form of loss, which may include a loved one, a career, future plans, or a cherished object. 

There are often several stages to the grieving process, and everyone may move through them uniquely. Some people might go through all the stages, while others may only experience a few. The stages of grief generally include the following:

  • Denial

  • Anger

  • Bargaining

  • Depression

  • Acceptance 

Grief may feel all-consuming and make it hard to carry out daily activities. Allowing yourself to feel your emotions can help you heal and move forward with time.

How Long Does Grief Last?

People usually heal from grief at their own pace. There may be no set timeline for how long the grieving process should last or how much time is too much. 

Grief may come and go in waves over the years, or you might experience it all at once. When waves of grief hit, please note that it generally isn't a sign of moving backward, but a normal part of grieving. 

While almost everyone grieves differently and for varied lengths of time, many people experience a peak in their symptoms at the six-month mark, particularly after the death of a loved one. 

Effects Of Grief

Grief can affect your physical and mental health in many ways. Symptoms might be physical, emotional, or behavioral. Below are some of the potential effects of grief, broken down by category.

Physical Effects 

Weight change, tension throughout the body, and sleep issues can all be potential symptoms of grief. You may experience weight loss from being unable to eat, or you may overeat and gain weight. Stress may cause your shoulders to tighten and tense throughout the day, possibly leading to pain. Insomnia might keep you up at night, or you may find that you oversleep or can't get out of bed in the morning.

Emotional Effects

Depression, guilt, anxiety, anger, and loneliness can all be common emotions experienced by people who have lost someone or something important to them. You may experience a period in which you deny the loss as a subconscious way of trying to defend yourself. 

During this time, your emotions might feel numb. However, once you move past the denial stage, all the feelings you may have been holding in might come out at once. Moving rapidly from one emotion to the next can be normal, and it usually helps to let yourself feel each of them. Since everyone can feel different things during their grief, no emotion may be abnormal or something to be ashamed of.

Behavioral Effects

If you're grieving, some behavioral effects you might notice are forgetfulness, talking a lot about who or what you lost, withdrawing from previously enjoyed activities, and worrying more about other people. You might be unable to concentrate on whatever is in front of you, potentially leading to forgetfulness as you move through the day. Talking about what you lost or telling stories about memories with your loved one can also be common. 

If you're experiencing depression, you may withdraw from hobbies or interests you once had. The energy needed to participate in these activities might not be there. In addition, if your grief causes you anxiety, you may begin to worry about the safety or well-being of your other loved ones. 

Knowing when to reach out to a professional while grieving can help. It's expected to experience a wide range of intense and complex emotions, but some signs can indicate that you might need extra support. For example, developing anxiety or depression that doesn't allow you to function normally throughout the day can be cause for concern. Any suicidal thoughts or ideation should also be discussed with a mental health expert. Grief is a process you don’t have to go through alone.

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. You can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) at 988 via text or phone call 24/7. You can also reach out via chat at www.988lifeline.org.

National Grief Awareness Day

National Grief Awareness Day, also known as National Bereavement Day, is usually recognized annually on August 30th. It was founded in 2014 by Angie Cartwright, a woman who experienced the loss of many of her loved ones. Its purpose is generally to raise awareness of the different ways in which grief can manifest in our lives. 

August 30th can be an opportunity to realize that everyone copes with loss differently and to learn how to help yourself and others through the grieving process. You can observe National Grief Awareness Day no matter what type of loss you've been through. 

Some common reasons people experience grief may include:

  • The death of a loved one

  • A divorce, breakup, or other separation

  • Getting fired from a job or losing a promotion

  • Losing one’s business or livelihood

  • Learning about a chronic illness or condition

  • Losing financial stability

  • The death of a pet

  • Imprisonment

  • A child leaving home

  • Pregnancy or loss of pregnancy 

Each of these can be a valid reason for grieving. However, grief can often be hard to understand. National Grief Awareness Day typically recognizes the challenges of comforting someone in grief and seeks to eliminate barriers that can prevent empathy, patience, and understanding. 

In addition, National Grief Awareness Day can be important because it encourages people everywhere to support themselves and their loved ones through the grieving process, no matter what. By raising awareness about grief with factual information and encouraging open lines of communication, people everywhere can hope to receive better support, care, and comfort as they try to heal.

Recognizing National Grief Awareness Day

Learning about and acknowledging how people cope with loss can be helpful. National Grief Awareness Day generally aims to do just that. Regardless of how you recognize National Grief Awareness Day, even small actions can make a big difference.

Here are some ways you can recognize this day on your own or within your community.

Practice Self-Care

If you're grieving someone or something important, it may help to be there for yourself. Of course, you may want other people to support you, but you can also practice self-care to potentially alleviate some of your difficult emotions. Consider speaking with a therapist, taking yourself out for dessert, or enjoying a spa day. Self-care can be all about what helps you relax and feel loved.

Join A Support Group

Grief support groups can connect you with others who are experiencing similar situations. For example, you may have lost a spouse, child, pet, business, or job. Try looking for a support group specific to your type of loss or a general grief support group. 

Support groups are often led by someone experienced with the group's topic, but they can also be facilitated by a professional, such as a therapist. Meeting weekly or monthly with people who care may help you cope and heal healthily.

Remember A Loved One You Lost

No matter how long it's been since you lost a loved one, you may still feel pain in some capacity. To remember their life and the memories you had with them, you might consider setting up a fundraiser, memorial, or scholarship fund in their honor. This can keep their memory alive for years to come.

Helping A Loved One Who Is Grieving

There can be many ways to support a loved one who is grieving or coping with loss. You might fear you'll say the wrong thing or have nothing to say, but you don't have to let that stop you from reaching out. People experiencing grief often need others more than usual. Here are some ways you can help them through their feelings and be a supportive person in their life.

Listen More Than You Speak

Let your loved one talk through their feelings, whether that means crying, telling stories about the person they lost, or venting. Sometimes, your loved one may want to sit in silence. 

Being present and allowing the conversation to go in any direction is often the best approach. Your presence may mean more than you realize and can bring comfort, safety, and healing.

Offer Support

People who are grieving might feel unable to complete daily tasks or perform everyday activities. You may be able to help by asking your loved one what their needs are at that moment. Not everyone may need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Bringing a home-cooked meal, taking out the trash, or watching the kids for a few hours might help the most. 

It’s possible they may need someone to get them out of the house, drive them to the store, or help them with funeral arrangements. Instead of assuming you know what someone needs, it's usually best to ask so you can be confident that you're meeting their needs and know you're doing your best.

Ask How They're Doing

It can be easy to make assumptions about how a loved one feels, especially if you know them well. However, the grieving process is often unique, and emotions can change. Rather than assuming someone is okay or struggling, you might ask them. They may not be ready to open up, but their response may indicate their feelings.

Help Them Get Extra Support

Sometimes, your loved one may need more support than those in their life can offer. For example, if they're experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other mental health condition, it could be time to see a mental health professional. You can be there to encourage them to reach out for help. 

You could also drive them to their first therapy session or help them financially afford therapy. While you don't have to give beyond your means or put yourself out, even small gestures can mean a lot.

Take Care Of Yourself

In general, you cannot pour from an empty cup, and caring for yourself while helping your loved one can be healthy. Try to take time for yourself, do things you enjoy, and lean on your friends or family for support. The better you help yourself, the better you may help your grieving loved one.

Give It Time

Since there's no set timeline for grieving, your loved one may experience grief for longer than expected. They may still need your support in the following days, weeks, and months. You might want to reassure your loved one that you're not going anywhere during this time. 

Specific days or times of the year might also be more challenging for them. However, showing genuine concern and care may help them heal and move forward. While their grief may never disappear completely, you can be someone who encourages them to keep going.

Tips For Coping With Loss

Are You In The Process Of Grieving A Loved One?

Loss is rarely easy. Grief can take a toll on your mental health and bring out unexpected emotions. Although the grieving process can be different for everyone, many of us benefit from similar methods. Some of these may include the following:

  • Lean on people who care: This could be a friend, family member, mentor, or someone else. When you're with someone you trust and respect, you may be more able to open up about how you feel and get your emotions off your chest. 

  • Comfort yourself at home: Self-care could include hobbies like playing an instrument, practicing a sport, or doing arts and crafts. It could also include relaxation techniques like meditation, mindfulness, or yoga. Something enjoyable, entertaining, and calming may keep your mind occupied and focused on the present moment.

  • Take care of your physical health: Your mental and physical health can be intertwined in many ways, and when one area benefits, the other often does, too. You can stay physically healthy by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep at night, and eating nutritious meals. 

  • Try therapy: Speaking with a therapist can help you understand and address your thoughts and emotions.

Benefits Of Online Therapy

Online therapy can be preferable to in-person therapy if you have a busy schedule, don't like driving long distances, or need a more affordable option. You may also feel more comfortable discussing vulnerable topics like grief from a familiar location, such as your home.

Effectiveness Of Online Therapy

In general, evidence suggests that online therapy tends to be just as effective as traditional in-office therapy. For example, one study showed that online therapy could be beneficial for individuals experiencing grief. Most participants experienced significant decreases in symptoms of grief, depression, and post-traumatic stress.


National Grief Awareness Day typically takes place on August 30th of each year. It can be an opportunity to raise awareness of the different manifestations of grief. You can acknowledge this day by taking time for self-care, remembering loved ones you’ve lost, and joining a grief support group. You can also support friends or family members who may be experiencing grief. For further support, it can be helpful to reach out to a licensed therapist in your local area or through an online therapy platform.

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