RCCS Tidbit of the Month: Overcoming Our Grieving Impairments

The following post is from our Recovery-Centered Clinical System (RCCS) Tidbit of the Month series. Each month, the RCCS Steering Committee creates practices to support our recovery culture within our programs and among staff. Click here to learn more about the RCCS.

RCCS Tidbit of the Month: Offering Comfort

A Component of the Five Awarenesses of the RCCS Program Culture

Grief is a deeply personal and complex emotion that individuals experience uniquely. However, supporting someone through their grieving process can be challenging, as many people may feel unsure about what to say or do. In this month's RCCS Tidbit, we explore the concept of "grieving impairments" and discuss practical ways to overcome them to provide meaningful support to those facing grief and loss.

Acknowledging the discomfort:

Following a recent RCCS Tidbit, we received a heartfelt message from "Susan," who shared her journey and experiences with grief after the death of her husband. “Susan” highlighted the discomfort she felt from friends and co-workers who seemed unsure about how to interact with her during her time away and upon her return to work.

Understanding "grieving impairments":

“Susan's” experience led her to realize that many individuals are "grieving impaired." They may lack the knowledge or skills to support others through their grief effectively and may even fear making things worse. This insight sparked our curiosity: Can these "grieving impairments" be overcome?

The importance of open conversations:

Engaging in open and honest discussions about grief is crucial. We can break down barriers and foster understanding by creating a safe space for individuals to share their feelings and experiences. It is essential to listen actively and validate their emotions without judgment.

Conversation openers and meaningful actions:

We often worry about saying the wrong thing or causing further distress. However, avoiding the topic of grief can hinder the healing process. We can provide support by using conversation openers that show empathy and understanding. Additionally, small but meaningful actions, such as offering a listening ear, providing practical assistance, or sending thoughtful gestures, can make a significant difference in someone's grieving journey.


  • Discovering coping mechanisms:

    • Each person's grieving process is unique, and respecting their needs is essential. Encourage individuals to explore coping mechanisms that work for them, such as journaling, joining support groups, engaging in spiritual practices, maintaining physical activities, establishing a sleep schedule, or finding moments of joy amidst the pain. Providing resources and guidance can empower individuals to navigate their grief in a way that feels right.

  • Creating a culture of empathy and understanding:

    • Overcoming our own "grieving impairments" involves self-reflection and a willingness to learn. We can collectively support one another during challenging times by fostering a culture of empathy, compassion, and understanding. It is crucial to educate ourselves about grief and actively work towards breaking the stigma surrounding it.