If we don’t do emotions much in our life we almost certainly will when we are grieving. We tend to avoid the “difficult” emotions and the strong emotions of life. We often put them in the too hard basket and divert them out of the way. This diversion becomes a whole lot more difficult when we are grieving. Our emotions will flow out of us in a constant stream of never ending turmoil as we attempt to keep our balance in the unfamiliar territory we find ourselves. It really does feel as if we are walking a tightrope. Some days we step out and walk ok, other days we’re wobbling all over the place. For much of those early days and months we’re flat on our back struggling to breathe. There is not even an upright in sight.
Many of you ask me, “Is what I am feeling normal, am I ok?” it’s why I wrote “What’s Normal” to let you know that no matter what you are feeling, you are very much OK. Whilst we will all experience and deal with our grief as individuals, there are some common emotions that many who grieve will go through.
Complete disbelief and numbness – “How could this have actually happened to us, to our family?” I think in those first few weeks our body protects us by trickle feeding our reality to us in bits and pieces. Our mind can’t absorb it all at once. We can feel zombie like, numb or totally “normal” at times as we deal with funeral arrangements, well-wishers and services, only to find we fall apart when it’s all over.
Anger – many of us will experience rage against the injustice of what has happened to our loved one, to us, to our lives. The most surprising thing often is that as well as our anger being directed towards a perpetrator, a medical institution or a third party, we can also find our anger is directed against those we love the most. It can be a member of our family, the person who has died. Our faith too, if we have one is also not immune, nothing is. The anger seeps out of our very pores. Accepting that this is a process, we each have to find our ways to express it and get it out of us in safe ways that do not become harmful to ourselves or others.
Incredible Sorrow- the pain of our loss cripples us. Never before did we know that grief was so physically painful as well as emotionally wrenching. Our tears can be our day and night companions or so obviously missing there is a gaping hole in our hearts where we think they should be. It hurts like nothing has ever hurt before. We wonder how we could ever survive such pain. How does anyone? It is so so overwhelming and devastating. Our heart has been ripped out and hangs outside of ourselves in tatters. Is it any wonder we cry and feel such sadness?
Guilt – if only we could go back and make it right, change it somehow. Change our part in things; it could have been so different, if only. If only we had done this…. we should have…..we could have. These thoughts go around and around and for many of us will take a great deal of soul searching to find forgiveness in our hearts for doing the only thing we could do at the time, our best with what we had and what we knew.
These are just a few grief emotions, you may know of all of them, many others or none of them. Your own experience of grief is yours and it will be as it is for you. Yours.
As we recognize the emotions that are impacting our life, as we express them and let them out of us, we make room again for more to come. For quite some time the more is painful. We’re releasing and refilling, we’re crying and then building up again. This is grief. Know that for every single moment of emotion you experience, you are grieving for someone you love with all your heart. There will come a time of ease, of softening, of lessening, of different.
Love – we love so very much. We love them from the very depths of our being. It is our love which will never fade, as our tears will fade. It is our love which will strengthen us as we begin to bring life back to us. As our grief changes and diminishes, our love stays true. It is our love which is always with us, no matter where our life may take us now. It is our love for them which will get us through, which will become stronger and bigger in our hearts. Let our love always be greater than our grief, let it become our legacy to them. Love.
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