Death and moving forward? Are you crazy?
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
Coping with the loss of someone you love is one of life's biggest challenges. It is also one no one can avoid. We all have lost someone or will lose someone we love; it is enevitable.
The pain can be so overwhelming. You will experience so many different and maybe conflicting emotions. This pain can disturb your physical health as well. The initial shock may lead to diarrhea and vomiting. You may be unable to sleep, eat or think straight. So many clients tell me they feel like they are 'going crazy' due to the lack of concentration and memory issues. It is common to feel this way and you are not 'crazy' you are responding normally to great loss. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and each person will mourn differently. But there is a physical toll on the body and you, at times, will be exhausted.
There are unhealthy responses to loss such as; isolation, alcohol or drug use, avoiding the facts or minimizing your loss. Healthy mourning is painful and may include some of those to begin with but as time progresses you begin to internalize the loss and move forward.
Move forward?? What does that look like? Does that mean you forget the loss? No! It means you accept this has happened, cannot be changed and you have to continue to live your life. You are still alive and remain in the land of the living. You will begin to have hope even though those hopes have been altered because of your loss.
It looks so different for everyone. It depends on who died. Your son is a different loss than your dad or even your spouse. It depends on the way they died. Some deaths are complicated by the circumstances of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, by suicide or alcohol/drugs. I encourage you to remember the life they lived and not how they died. There is only one death and there are a bazzilion little memories of how they lived.
Moving forward means you are getting up, maybe taking a shower and maybe even getting dressed. Moving forward may mean there are times you smile and laugh when their name comes up instead of feeling that gut punch and instant tears.
Above all do not judge yourself by how others are doing; better or worse.
You are stronger than your grief. I discovered grief never ends but don't give up. It will get better. You will not always feel this raw. You will not always feel like your stomach is ripped out and your heart is dashed to pieces. You will not always feel like there are no more tears to cry and an unlimited number of screams to scream. The timing is different for everyone but you will know, if in the future, you will come to an acceptance or a peace. You will be able to smile at their memory instead of cry. The things that remind you of them will make you smile and laugh not wince and cry. The love that you feel will always live within you.
If it has been a year and you still feel numb or if it has been 5 years and you are just now feeling the pain, these are normal. There are times you may continue to believe the death never affected you at all because you are so angry or still in shock and will act as if nothing has changed.
My mom died I was 16. I had pockets of intense grief screaming alone but more often than not I pretended it never happened. It was so much easier and less energy than dealing with everyone being worried about me. It was how I survived. I did pay for ignoring it then by a huge crash later. This is when I learned you cannot ignore or put away grief; it will always find you and make you go through it until you have come to a resolution.
So be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge the immensness of your loss. Don't avoid the thoughts and feelings as they come. Sit with the grief. What I mean is, don't always push the hurt away and distract yourself. It is true the only way is through it. You can not go around it, avoid it or stuff it. So when the wave hits just allow the pain. Notice where you feel it in your body. Try journaling your feelings. Try being in a place that is special to you both. Try writing them a letter. Try talking it aloud to a pet or yourself.