Have you ever been put in a grouchy mood because someone hurt or offended you? While you are busy being hurt they say something funny. You crack a smile and laugh but quickly catch yourself and go back to your grouchy face. Wallowing in your own offense sometimes just feels right. Whether it is “right’ or not it is a common reaction.
Grief can feel the same way. Loss is painful. Emotional pain starts to feel like physical pain and you question if you will ever feel good again. Losing someone feels so bad that you don’t want to feel good. So the first time you laugh, smile or find joy you may stop yourself. It is not out of the norm to feel ashamed that you could find joy during a time of grief. But grief is not all or nothing. Joy can exist even in the midst of deep pain. A smile or a laugh is healthy and necessary when loss is so big.
Grief is not all or nothing, despite expectations
Grief carries a lot of expectations. These expectations come from yourself or others.” Are you over it yet” seems like an inconsiderate question to be asked however is not uncommon for someone to ask. In the same way you may wonder if you are holding onto grief too long. Or the opposite. You may wonder if you are not “sad enough”. The expectations of the grief process can cause frustration and shame.
There is a quote that says, “expectation feeds frustration.” It goes on to say “it is an unhealthy attachment to people, things and outcomes we wish we could control, but can’t.” This thought is often applied to relationships. Unrealistic or unhealthy expectations, whether high or low, set us up for disappointment. Without proper communication and appropriate expectations relationships can go bad, The same can be said for grief. Expecting ourselves or others to grieve in a certain way can really set us up for disappointment and additional grief.
Grief is not all or nothing. You can be in the pits of despair one day and embracing life and feeling joy the next. It is all a part of the grief process.
Grief isn’t gone, we just learn to live with it
Loss rocks your world. It can be hard to reconcile the fact that the world goes on the same for the rest of the world. When you lose someone close to you, your entire world changes. When you re-enter into “normal” life again after the immediate aftershocks of your loss, it can be discouraging. The sun still shines, people still smile and enjoy life. There is a part of you that wants the whole world to know that you are not okay.
As time passes you start to adjust to the new normal. The pain of your loss settles into the little moments rather than filling the whole of your heart and mind like it once did. So you learn to live with your grief. The longing for your loved one doesn’t leave. Your love for them doesn’t dissipate, in fact it grows. Give yourself the grace to grieve and to find joy. After all, grief is not all or nothing.
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