Moving through the grievance – What is normal?

Do you feel like something is wrong with you because of the way the death of your loved one is affecting you? Are those around you implying that you have to “control yourself” or that you should be getting over it?

Don’t let your feelings of isolation increase because of their lack of understanding. Almost everyone has a preconceived notion about what is and is not a normal human response to the death of a loved one. But the problem is (and it’s their problem) only you know the degree of emotional investment you had in the loved one who died, not his friends or family.

It hurts according to your schedule, not theirs. So what is it that is normal that sometimes looks and feels so abnormal and can scare our support people? The following have been associated with the complaint process over the years.

1. Let’s start by understanding that the complaint is a long and complex journey with many ups and downs and unpredictable twists and turns. No two people are afflicted in the same way, not even in the same family. The process is much longer than our culture teaches. Most mourners are initially filled with shock and disbelief, even when they knew their loved one was going to die. One cannot understand that the person is no longer physically present. He may feel numb, without feelings. Normal.

2. May (or may not) be filled with anger and/or resentment. Anger is often directed at medical personnel, sometimes at other family members, at God, at friends who don’t show up, at clergy, at funeral directors or at the deceased, or at feeling abandoned. Don’t expect your support network, no matter how hard you try, to understand your complaint or your anger. You may even be angry with yourself for what he did or didn’t do, whether real or imagined. Normal.

3. It is not uncommon to have a variety of physical responses, in addition to crying or yelling. Digestive disturbances, loss of appetite, headaches, fatigue, or the resurgence of old aches and pains may be experienced. Nervousness or tremors, weight gain or loss have been reported. What we feel emotionally is normally transferred to every cell in the body. Usually it all culminates in the inability to sleep.

4. You may feel a persistent emptiness, or irritability, a feeling of being overwhelmed, disoriented, or defenseless. Disorganized thinking, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, or confusion may occur. Fear of the future, being alone, or panicking is sometimes reported. Guilt, regret, or depression may set in as time passes and one repeats a variety of scenarios that lead to death. Waves or waves of emotion are common.

5. Over time, when the reality of the loss sinks in and the initial support begins to wane, the real grievance work begins. This is where you may feel extreme loneliness, isolation, longing, or difficulty establishing new routines made necessary by your loved one’s absence. Feelings of rejection, despair or hopelessness may appear. This is also the time when well-meaning people want you to get better quickly and you should follow your own grieving agenda.

Life is often questioned. What meaning can it have now? You may not see any purpose for yourself in a world without your loved one, and the very thought of feeling happy again is insane at best. You continue to procrastinate, find it difficult to make decisions, lack focus, and can get impatient with everyone. At this time it is essential to start working on establishing a new relationship with the deceased, learning to love in separation, beginning the search for meaning and trying to reinvest in life.

To summarize, you will undoubtedly experience several of the above responses to the death of a loved one. They have been, in various forms, experienced by millions of people before you. The general need is to allow the complaints process to develop. Do your best not to resist. Let it develop naturally. No one can tell you how long it will take.

And you are not weak because you still cry and miss the deceased. It is common to cry at various times over the years when a poignant memory is triggered. That’s healthy. Don’t hold back the normal expression of emotion throughout your complaint. Death changes us. We have to establish a new personal identity, and as we gradually heal, we regain joy and enter the next chapter of life.

Each of us decides if and when we will be loss-oriented or restoration-oriented for the rest of our lives. Above all, remember that there is nothing wrong with you for having the feelings that you do.

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