6 Things I Wish I Knew About Grief
Losing a person you love is an intensely personal experience. It’s an individual condition of every griever, and there are no rules. This can be frustrating because it’s somewhat comforting to think your grief will follow the clichés you’ve experienced through movies or books. Unfortunately, it’s never that easy, and you might have some unexpected reactions that confuse or even scare you. Rest assured, you’re not alone in feeling this way. Here are six things I wish I knew about grief before I had to experience it myself:
1. You are never truly prepared.
It’s natural to go over scenarios in your mind when you know you are at risk of losing a loved one. You consider the “what ifs” and imagine your reactions. Unfortunately, until you are truly hit with the reality of loss, you simply cannot be prepared for what it will feel like.
2. You may not cry.
Grief is unpredictable and surprising. Although most people think tears are a natural reaction, that’s often not the case. It’s possible to be so numb you are incapable of crying. If the death was expected after a long illness, you may have gone through anticipatory grief and just have no tears left. Just know this is normal.
3. You will probably experience a sudden outbursts of emotion.
Many people have unrealistic expectations of how quickly they can emerge from grief, thinking that the first several days will be very emotional, but that their emotions will even out after the funeral or memorial service. The thing is, you’ll see your lost loved one everywhere because grief triggers are everywhere. So, give yourself grace when you experience sudden emotions, knowing that it’s normal.
4. Grief may cause you physical pain.
Grief is a full-body experience, and your pain can easily transcend from the emotional to the physical. The most common expressions of this are aches and pains, sleep problems, and digestive issues. However, grief can actually cause serious physical manifestations like heart problems, too. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
5. You could begin questioning your faith.
This is a tough one for many people because faith can be such a comfort during times of loss. However, the loss of a loved one rocks your whole world, and you might start questioning your very belief system – or even feel abandoned by it. This is expected, and it does not make you a bad person.
6. You won’t ever really get over it; you’ll just learn to live with it.
No one wants to hear this when they’re in the thick of grief. After all, what we see on television gives us hope that our grief will travel a short timeline and that we will feel whole again soon. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. A serious loss will be with you always, leaving a void that won’t be filled. Still, you can learn to live with this over time.
Perhaps the cruelest thing about grief is that it can be such a confusing, convoluted experience – sometimes one that leaves you questioning whether you’re “doing it right” or whether you are “normal.” Just remember you are a unique person with a unique grief experience, and the way you experience your grief journey will be individual to you, as well.