“There is no right or wrong way to grieve” UVA Health grief expert shares advice

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – Traumatic events like this leave the community shaken.

No matter your relationship with Devin Chandler, D’Sean Perry or Lavel Davis Jr. not, Dr. Kim Penberthy with UVA Health says it’s normal to feel a level of sadness.

“Accept that there is no right or wrong way to grieve or face it. If I give myself permission to say you know what, I need to focus on getting enough sleep, remembering to eat and getting back into my routine because that will help in the long run,” Penberthy said.

She says there are some primary stages to dealing with grief, and the first is to have a sense of safety.

“With the person being apprehended, we immediately have a greater sense of safety, which helps to calm ourselves and calm other people physiologically and psychologically,” Penberthy said.

She says that security opens the door to connect and support yourself and others.

The next steps of grief involve developing a sense of efficacy, which can manifest as a desire to do something and help make a change.

“A lot of people will take this grief and do something positive with it, reform rules or increase safety, or develop other programs to support,” she said.

Penberthy says it’s normal to feel upset even if you don’t have a personal connection to those who have lost their lives, as their loss leaves a hole in the community for everyone.

“It’s okay to have the feelings, to feel them, you just keep moving through them. If you get stuck, it’s time to get more help. And definitely talk about it with people who will understand,” she said.

She encourages patients to talk openly with their children.

“They’re going to talk about it, they’re going to hear about it, even if you think that’s not the case, so make sure you engage with them in a way that’s not too intrusive, yet demonstrate that you’re there is for them,” Penberthy said.

She also says intense feelings of grief can last between four to six weeks as people begin to heal.

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