I’m going to talk about normal, natural grief and break it into a brief, manageable size.
Visualize a table in front of an open window. There are stacks of paper on the table, tidy, organized stacks. A slight breeze comes through the window and rustles the papers, now a strong wind comes through and scatters the papers everywhere.
The above image is what grieving is like. Some days you do just fine; have it all together. Other days you feel restless; uneasy but go about your day. Then some days you can’t even get out of bed without crying. You look through pictures and deeply miss your person. The next day, you brush yourself off and begin again.
Grief is a lot of emotions rolled into one package. Grief is:
I'm sad and lonely because you are not in my life anymore.
My loneliness is the result of isolation. That isolation is two fold. One, I don’t have the energy to reach out to others for support, comfort, or in friendship. Two, because others tend to stay away from me. Others are uncomfortable around me because they don’t know what to say. Others are afraid they might say something that will make me feel worse.
I am confused and adrift. My life has changed and I don’t know where to start or what to do to create a new one. My direction and focus in life has to be different now.
I’m angry. I liked my life the way it was. Everything was great and then you died. Now you are gone and I have to change. I’m angry about that.
I'm angry with you for dying. You’re gone and I am the one who has to deal with everything. I’m the one that has to start over.
I’m angry with God for letting this happen.
Why did this happen to me? Oh, I had better not tell anyone how angry I am. I believe people will think I am a bad person so I hold the anger inside of myself and become depressed.
I’m so depressed. My anger held inward becomes depression. I’m so depressed I can’t leave the house, some days I can’t even get dressed. I can’t eat or I eat too much. I can’t sleep or I sleep too much. I am so depressed.
I'm frightened. We did everything we were supposed to do. We ate the right foods, exercised, did all the right treatments and you died anyway. I am not as in control of my life as I thought I was. These feelings tell me I and others close to me could die too. Death takes away the idea that we are immortal. This realization is frightening.
I’m sad, I'm lonely, I’m isolated, I'm confused and adrift, I'm angry, I'm depressed, I'm scared. All of these start with I. Grief is self centered. It is not about the person who has died. It is how we are feeling about the situation life has put us in. I don’t mean this in a negative way. It is just how it is.
Most religious belief systems teach that when you are dead you are in a better place. If we hold that belief then we are not worried about the person who has died. They are better off than we are. Living is hard work, being dead is easy. I point this out because most of us think our feelings, our grief, is about the person who died. It is not, it is about us, about how our life has to change and how we are going to adapt to those changes.
We don’t heal from grief. We don’t recover from grief. We learn how to live with grief. Our life will never be the same again but time will begin to fill in the space between the pain that we feel over our loss.
Something more... about Grief
In MY FRIEND, I CARE The Grief Experience pay attention to the pages of "Do's and Don'ts" for extra support in your time of grieving.