Fifteen things I wish someone had told me about grief! By definition, grief is the emotional response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. However, you can read this definition one hundred times or observe how others experience grief, you will never truly understand the many facets of grief until you lose a loved one. Losing a loved one puts you face to face with a part of yourself you didn’t know existed. It can be worse, or easier than you imagined. Throughout the grieving process, you may be surprised to discover a strong, resilient self or on the contrary, you may be forced to explore your vulnerability.
It’s fair to say that loss and grief are two scary experiences that no one is curious about, so it’s normal to look them up, learn more about how to deal with grief, but sometimes the things that are most representative of the grieving process are the unsaid ones:
- You don’t always get over the loss of a loved one. It’s true that you get better in time, that you learn to rebuild your life, but that “acceptance” part doesn’t mean your life will get back to the exact point it was before the loss.
- When a relative dies, this influences the family dynamics in unique and unexpected ways. Losing a loved one can bring you all together or, on the contrary, it can bring out the worst in you. Don’t expect anything but stay patient and be prepared to see your family in a new light.
- Grieving isn’t a set process that starts when a person dies and ends after a fixed time period. Part of learning how to cope with grief is understanding that grieving is different for everyone, it can last less or longer than you expected.
- Hiding your feelings is worse than facing them and it will only prevent you from coming to terms with the loss.
- In front of such a massive life event, you learn to appreciate the little things, be grateful for what you have and, if only for a while, forget about pride and personal feuds.
- “Good death” and “bad death” are relative terms. Because our perception of death is often influenced by what we see in movies, we often discover that what looks like a bad way to go – i.e. in a hospital bed – can actually be good for the family.
- No matter how organized you are as a person, the funeral will be a confusing event that you will experience as in a dream.
- It’s normal to feel guilt and anger – at yourself or at the person who passed. Accept these feelings as being a natural part of grief instead of suppressing them.
- Contrary to common belief, you don’t necessarily cope better with a loss if you are religious. In fact, you might find that losing someone makes you question your faith. Also, grief can make you question your purpose in life and reevaluate your priorities.
- You will find yourself reliving the last day of your loved one’s life or your last encounter.
- People will expect you to grieve in a certain way that they see fit. Some will want you to grieve more visibly, others will want you to “toughen up” and get over it quicker. Don’t listen to them. Grieve in your own rhythm.
- Grieving comes in waves. You may feel numb at first, but that doesn’t mean you don’t care. If you feel better one day after a long time of grieving, that doesn’t mean it’s over.
- Grieving sometimes helps you understand who is really on your side. You may discover that people who you considered your close friends don’t have your best interest at hearts and make new unexpected friendships with whom you expect them least.
- Your grief can be triggered when you expect it the least and you will deal with sudden outbursts, including in public.
- In time, you will start to appreciate meeting people who knew your loved one and you will find solace in sharing memories.