What is Grief?
Grief is more than sad. For further reading, check out the following:
Grief is more than sad.
Before I experienced loss for myself, to me, I thought grief as being sad after losing someone you love. Grief is sad. It's hard to lose someone you love, but there are so many additional emotions, feelings, and factors that go into grief: anxiety, lonely, numbness, anger, lost, empty, hopeful, happy, guilt ridden, cold, lost, hopeful, foggy, okay, scared, heartbroken, exhausted, broken. For further discussions about specific feelings of grief, click the linked emotion.
"I shouted at death, like death could hear me. "this isn't fair." And I asked a thousand whys. All my questions, doubts, and fears were answered with silence. Between the anger, there was heartbreak and disbelief when I heard you passed away. This can't be real. This can't be my reality. This can't be yours... but this nightmare of grief was reality. And reality is I lost someone I loved. I'll never know the reasons as to why, yet, I don't think there is an explanation that would make this feel okay. Love has been filled with grief. What once was can no longer be. And while the anger fades, the wish you were here never does." For further discussion about anger, feel free to continue reading here.
You may find yourself thinking, "I can't lose anyone else" and it's scary since we can't control death.
You may feel like the clock is ticking, "how much time do I have left" and worry you're wasting it.
You may find your heart breaking, "how do I go on without you?"
You may worry people are judging how you grieve.
This is one of the hardest parts for me to accept was also grief... happiness. Initially, I felt like grief and happiness were two separate experiences. It didn't seem possible to feel both at once. I only felt grief. Then one day, I was grieving and felt moments of happiness. I was filled with instant guilt. How could I feel happy and grieve? They still felt separate. But now I have learned it is possible to feel both grief and happiness at once. It's not the same as before, but now I cope with my grief and allow myself to feel joy. For a further discussion of happiness and grief continue reading here.
Another emotion that often goes unrecognized is the feeling of numbness during grief. I think the reason it's not talked about much is because it may be associated with lack of emotions, but that's not the case. You are still grieving even if you are feeling numb. For a further discussion of grief and numbness click here.
We all grieve differently.
Grief is universal. An experience we will all go through. Yet grief is also so unique because we all grieve differently. You can lose the same person, but still grieve differently. You can go through the same type of loss, but still grieve differently. You can experience multiple losses, but each loss will be a different grief. Each experience will be unique because each relationship is unique. We cope differently. We grieve differently. The takeaway here is that it is normal and not to judge. What worked for someone else, might not work for you. What worked in the past, might not work now. Grief is an experience we handle one day at a time.
Allow yourself permission to grieve.
Let yourself grieve. I noticed that sometimes grievers don't allow themselves time or space to grieve. Initial loss might almost feel like a checklist... be strong for the family, plan the funeral, and then return to work. But when are you supposed to grieve? Grievers may feel required to return to normal, but what we miss is the time and space and permission to grieve. You are allowed to feel grief. All grief is valid. Sometimes I think maybe this is a way we cope though. A checklist just to make it through the days. Or maybe we've been conditioned to think our grief end after the funeral. Or maybe we just don't even know what grief even is... so we don't know how to feel it. We just feel alone in it. I just think you should allow yourself permission to grieve because eventually you do feel it all.
And lastly, a reminder that grief doesn't have a timeline.
Please don't feel you have to "get over it." Yet, all grievers do feel at some point they were expected to move on, but when? Why? Grief was allowed at the hospital. Grief was allowed at the funeral. Grief was allowed in the days that followed... but when was the day your grief was no longer accepted? It is unfair that after a couple months or even just one year... people think you have moved on. It's unfair because grief doesn't have a timeline. Grief changes with time. Grief does not always look like initial loss, but you'll still feel it. Maybe in waves...and that is normal. It is normal to miss a loved one. It is normal to grieve. It is normal to remember. To mourn. Grief doesn't have an end date. We just cope with the loss throughout our lives.