what is grief?
It is a normal reaction to the death of someone you have lost. A spouse, parent, child, friend, or pet. Grief is a natural emotional response to the sudden or anticipated change in your life. Webster’s dictionary definition of grief is; deep and poignant distress caused by bereavement, a cause of suffering.
Questions related to grief:
Why does it feel like no one gets me?
That feeling of being misunderstood is real. Other people are not experiencing your loss exactly the same way as you are. They can empathize with your loss but will never feel it in the way that you do, because all grief is unique. However, don’t let this stop you from reaching out and being truthful about how you are feeling.
Teach those around you about your needs; starting by communicating with someone who will not judge or compare your pain to theirs. You are looking for empathy and validation of your pain, not for someone to practice comparison.
Find people who are mature enough to listen, to be present and able to validate the feelings you are experiencing. Seeking professional help in the grieving processes.
The shame and guilt around death makes me afraid to talk about it; my family is acting as if nothing happened.
We have a need for others to bear witness to our loss. Being silent about the death and pretending it had no impact, can lead to complicated, long-term repressed grief. The body, mind, and spirit have a need to release the build up of pain and discomfort. When left untreated pain and loss can exacerbate, this can lead to looking for addictive and destructive behavior in an effort to numb or deny the pain of loss.
When death is due to murder, suicide, substances or disease, it is often accompanied by blame, anger, guilt, and shame. Some family members make the decision of not talking about the circumstances of the death or the person who died. Silence may appear to provide temporary relief, but it does not allow the healing necessary to take place.
Grief may be further complicated by this, it may cause division, or lead to more secrets and assumptions concerning the death. The true story of loss is important for the healing process. It encourages your loved ones to communicate seeking understanding and healing. This is vital for the health of the family.
What do I do now that I’m not a caregiver?
The loss of your loved one has left you redefining your role once again, you have organized your life to be available both emotionally and physically for another living being. The end of their life has required that once again, you shift your resources, energy, emotions, and focus. Shifting will require time out to create and launch into the next chapter of your life with gifts left behind by your loved one. Redefine your role, using love, lessons learned, and hope to begin process of healing.
I am afraid I will forget my loved one
The fear of forgetting any loved one is shared by many going through grief. This fear has led to some never getting rid of anything, and collecting more and more items connected to their loved ones. However, there is a more empowering and flexible way to not forget the memories of your loved one and to keep them close. There are many methods; listening to recordings of their voice, photo albums or journalism of precious moments, annual celebrations of their life with others who knew and loved them, and much more. You can hold on to those memories without holding back your life or being paralyzed by fear.
Everyone else in the family seems fine; what is wrong with me?
Nothing is wrong you, everyone grieves differently and, in some families, and cultures speaking about the dead is discouraged. They say things like “too much, it’s over, stop bringing it up, or it’s time for you to get over it.” These responses demonstrate some of their fears or the ways they have chosen to deal with or deny the pain of grief. You have the right to grieve in the way that is healing for you, talking about the loss and processing the feelings and meanings to you. You know in your heart that talking about the loss, truthfully acknowledging your loss, is important and necessary for your healing.
Can I grieve a step parent? Should I feel guilt when I do?
You have the right and honor to grieve your parental figure just as deeply as their biological children. The time, memories, and gift of their love in your life, gives you equal share in the grief. Do not deny yourself the feelings of mourning your parent and what the relationship meant to you. Everyone will grieve their personal aspect of the relationship, and you deserve that privilege without any guilt, because you mattered to them and they mattered to you.
When does this feeling go away?
The feeling of grief doesn’t go away permanently; it changes in intensity and impact as you incorporate the loss. This is a process of healing and adjusting to life without your loved one, while remaining connected to their impact and memory. In the beginning stages it is full of raw emotions that will vary in intensity. Sadness from smelling the familiar scent of a loved one to crippling stomach aches from crying out of anger and pain. It can feel like numbness where the emotions expected are not present. You will have moments where life is like a movie, with you standing by watching everyone go through it. There is the hope of recovering a connection to life, joy, and longer lasting peace of mind. One day the feeling can become a short-lived moment of sadness followed by the positive feeling of love, connection, and gratefulness.
If you are in the El Paso, Texas area and need counseling for grief contact us at: 915-540-5771
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