Bereavement affects people in different ways, there isn’t a right or a wrong way to feel, there aren’t any rules to follow. Powerful feelings will hit you out of the blue, you think you’re coping and the next minute you’re in tears, unable to think straight and just wanting to hide away.
There are many different feelings of grief which can affect you at any time. You may feel shock and numbness as if you are in a thick fog. You may feel overwhelming sadness with lots of crying. Your sleep will probably be affected so you may feel absolutely exhausted. Many people also feel anger, sometimes towards the person who passed and left them behind, sometimes towards themselves, sometimes towards their god or the universe. There is also often an overriding feeling of guilt, maybe something you didn’t do or say or maybe not being able to prevent the death. Grief may also cause you to become really forgetful and distracted.
Talking and sharing your feelings really can help. Don’t go through the bereavement alone. For some people relying on family and friends can be the best way to cope, for others it is better to talk with a Counsellor, Therapist or Coach. It’s always better to share your thoughts and feelings with someone rather than let them become trapped inside you. Talking it through can often be the first step to letting go of the grief and starting to move forward. Anniversaries, birthdays any special occasions can be particularly hard and the first one’s are even harder. It can help to plan something in advance to help you remember in some special way.
Writing this has triggered the anger I felt when my Mum passed away and that was 40 years ago. I used to look at women much older than her and think why my Mum and why not you? I was angry at myself for not spending enough time with her and not finding out enough about her life. Same thing when my Dad passed, almost two years to the day after my Mum, added to all the other anger was feeling sorry for myself ‘why me’, ‘it’s not fair’. One thing I’ve learned is that life isn’t fair but it’s up to us how we deal with it.
More recently I supported my partner through his illness, he was in and out of hospital over a two year period, then sadly went into a coma from which he didn’t recover. The grief was overwhelming. The feeling of being lost, not really able to function at a time when so many practical things had to be done was crippling.
Despite all this, that other awful saying ‘life goes on’ is also true. Often out of the blue you may feel happy then almost instantly guilty about feeling happy. On the other hand you may feel like you can’t be bothered to get out of bed or eat properly. You may be taking your grief and anger out on people around you. At worst you may feel that you just can’t go on.
I really can’t stress enough how much talking and sharing your feelings can help. I know how hard it is to do from my own experiences but I also know how helpful and wonderfully releasing it can be.
Above all, look after yourself and be kind to yourself.
Author: Tricia Jones, Life Coach at InsideOut