Grief is everywhere. A downside of living longer is that there’s more to lose. Most of us have had some personal experience with grief but there’s something we really need to chat about.
Grief doesn’t end.
I can’t even tell you how often we get tripped up in trying to figure out when we should be done grieving. The reality is that grief is forever. The pain of losing someone you love sticks with you for the rest of the life. It’s not supposed to – and we need to be real about that.
Grief Changes Over Time
While there is no end to the pain of losing someone you love, there are definitely some changes that you experience in the process of that grief. Early on in your loss it may be hard to stop thinking about your loved one. You may be preoccupied with their absence. That’s normal. Over time, regular life takes up more space. You find yourself more distracted by the ups-and-downs of everyday life. You keep moving. The pain changes. Grief may no longer be the bottomless dark pit that you felt in the early stages (and let me be clear that there is no time limit on grieving), but perhaps the grief feels slightly less heavy.
Maybe you find yourself genuinely focused on other things from time to time. Maybe you cry slightly less. Or you cry a little less hard. This is part of the healing process. There may be times when that pit comes back, especially around anniversaries, holidays, etc. The pain that hides underneath the surface pops back up and you remember how great a loss you’ve suffered. That’s OK. It’s not a failing for your life to be disrupted in those moments. Take care of yourself. Take time off work. Do what you need to do to be OK.
Healing Requires Self Care
There is no right or wrong way to move throughout grief, but the one thing I want to encourage you to consider if you’re grieving right now is to try your best to take care of yourself. Eat regularly. Drink water. Bathe. Talk with people who you know love and support you. Embrace healthy distractions from time to time. Journal about your loved one. Pray for them. Revisit positive memories. If you don’t allow yourself to truly process your feelings, and don’t take care of yourself, that grief might become overwhelmingly disruptive to your life. If you pretend that you’ve “moved on” (therapist tip: that’s not really a thing) you might be just halting, or pausing, your healing process which requires grieving. With grief there are times that you may even feel like you don’t care about what happens next in your life, but one day you just might. One day you might want the option to care and you don’t want to get in your own way for the future.
Moving Forward When You’re Grieving
Grief can be debilitating. I think it is one of the harshest realities of our lives that we sometimes have to witness the loss of those we care about and love. Unfortunately, it is a part of this experience called life. Take time in your healing, but never stop takings steps forward even if it hurts like hell to move forward without the person you love. Talk to people who care about you. Seek out therapy. Don’t believe that you have to be happy or “over it” because the loss happened some time ago. Don’t believe the lie that grief is something that can be fixed.