Grief affects everyone differently.
But artist Maureen “Marzi” Wilson wants anyone dealing with loss to know that they’re not alone.
“I am sensitive to the fact that it’s exhausting to constantly explain yourself to others,” Wilson told HuffPost. “It isn’t anyone’s ‘job’ to educate me, so I’m appreciative and humbled when people are willing to share their stories with me.”
She created a cartoon, as part of her popular Introvert Doodles Instagram page, to help explain some of the common feelings associated with losing a loved one, such as guilt, crying spells and loneliness.
“It’s my hope that the doodles in this series promote greater awareness so there are fewer misunderstandings to begin with,” she said.
In some cases, grief can become prolonged and lead to mental health complications, including depression, in which the bereaved can feel symptoms as varied as extreme sadness, withdrawal, changes in appetite and sleep.
Here are just a few things people said to keep in mind if someone you love is grieving:
The image is a genuine reminder that grief can have a profound impact on a person. But while it’s good to be aware of how the process feels and how some people experience it, there are also a few things you can do to help make your grieving friend feel less alone.
If someone you know is dealing with a major loss, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Watch your words. Phrases like “they’re in a better place” and “try not to think about them for a while” may cause more harm than good. Saying things like “I can’t imagine how you must be feeling” or “is there anything I can do for you?” are more productive statements, according to grief experts.
- Try to make plans ― but let the person grieving make the decisions. Grief can make a person feel like he or she has lost control, so experts say it might be useful to empower someone who is dealing with loss to plan an outing.
- Lend your ear. Sometimes letting someone talk about their grief uninterrupted is the best thing you can do. “Grievers feel incredibly isolated and are not likely to reach out to say so, but grievers need and want you to listen,” Michelle Carlstrom, a certified grief recovery specialist and senior director of Work, Life and Engagement at Johns Hopkins University, previously told HuffPost. “The best thing you can do is to be an engaged, nonjudgmental listener. They need to talk and share their memories out loud.”
Wilson’s illustration is part of a new initiative on her page, called I Want You To Know, which explores the experiences of people living with certain conditions. The goal of the project is to better inform others about certain ways of life. Head over to Introvert Doodles to see more from the series.