Is my grief normal? As humans we often compare ourselves to others and ask, “am I normal?” It’s almost an innate thing to wonder how we match up. That inner critic can even try to convince you that you are not normal. The same happens in grief. Wondering if we are grieving wrong.
The reality is that every human is unique. What is normal, is relative. Certain factors impact what people consider “normal”. Cultural understandings and practices make a big impact on how we grieve and what we consider “normal”, for better or worse. In addition, something that is accepted within a family culture or society may not be healthy.
Let’s talk about a few things that you may experience in grief and wonder if it’s normal.
Three Ways Grief Is Normal
1. Feeling great one minute and in the depths of despair another.
Have you been there? Maybe time has passed and you start to feel the sting of daily grief fade away. It is possible you go days, weeks and even months feeling like there is hope again. Out of nowhere you feel flooded with grief all over again. You may even question, why? Feeling great one minute and in the depths of despair is okay.
2. Feeling nobody else understands how you feel.
Your loss is unique to you. Truly nobody has experienced what you experience exactly as you are. There are nuances to each persons’ grief story. Even though others have had losses of their own you may feel nobody truly understands your loss and how it has changed you. Even when people say they know how you feel, you don’t really believe them. Your pain is so intense and deep that nobody can really understand you. This is a normal feeling as well.
3. Jumping around in the “stages of grief”.
There are a couple lists of the stages of grief. Some list 5 stages and some 7 or more. Anger, acceptance, denial, bargaining and depression all fit into the lists of the stages of grief. The stages are listed in order. However you may feel you jump around from acceptance and then back to anger. Depression might set in and then back to bargaining. The stages of grief really aren’t fluid. They don’t always happen in order and it changes through time. It is totally normal to experience grief this way.
Isolation in Grief
One of the most important things to do when you are struggling is to connect with others. Connection is the key to healing. Isolation from others is the breeding ground for distorted thinking and loneliness. Others can support you.
Regularly processing and checking in with others can also give you a more realistic view of where you stand. Sometimes our loved ones can see things we don’t. Having a great support system when you are grieving is crucial. Professional therapists and counselors are beneficial. Support groups not only create a space for you to process grief. You can also play a part in helping others in their own grief story.
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