There are some very important things to remember as you work through your grief but none more so than knowing that so much of what you need will be difficult for you to find.
It’s not that those who surround you don’t want to help you. In fact, the contrary is certainly true. The problem is that there is so much misinformation and so much discomfort where grief and its emotions are concerned that often what’s offered as assistance can be hurtful and harmful.
In this vein, I said, “Your feelings are subjective and unique. No one can determine the weight or significance of your feelings.”
Those around you will try to figure out what you feel and what you need based on their life experiences. Unfortunately, what one person needs or feels can at times be a long way away from what someone else may require.
Here the person grieving must offer some guidance to those trying to help.
Tell those who care about you and worry about you how you feel and what you would find helpful. Chances are, if they are left to guess with little or no help from you, they will get it wrong.
Remember this also,
Feelings have no moral value. They are not good or bad, right or wrong; they simply exist and need to be recognized and acknowledged for what they are. How we express our feelings may have moral value, but the feelings themselves do not.
Unfortunately, grief and the sadness that goes along with it fall into the category of attracting “multiple experts”.
There will be many opinions of how you should and should not proceed with your pain. From there it is pretty much inevitable that others will decide what feelings of yours are right and wrong or good and bad.
These “interventions” by others aren’t offered to be mean, they come from a place of caring. Unfortunately, so often even the best intentions can be harmful.
Your feelings have no moral value. You have feelings because they exist, are necessary and need to be acknowledged and expressed.
To feel guilt or anger where the person who died is concerned for instance, may cause a storm of you should and you shouldn’t but if these are your feelings having someone talk you out of them will only cause you to be cautious about what you are feeling and even more cautious about who you tell and what you say.
In the end, not allowing yourself to feel and then not allowing your feelings to be expressed, regardless of what those feelings are, will only prevent you from acknowledging what’s going on inside you and stop you from healing.
There is something else to remember.
Where your grief and the feelings that accompany it are concerned, time alone will not heal you.
This brings us to one of those well-meaning statements in the flesh. “Time will heal everything”, or “you will be better in time”. These statements come from I’m not sure where and generally only cause harm.
If you cut yourself slightly, receive a surface burn, stub your toe or fall down and buise your knee then in a relatively short time with no outside help at all you will very likely mend perfectly.
Having someone that you love die is not a simple injury. In fact, I would liken losing a loved one to a major life trauma.
The person who has been in a serious automobile accident and has had bones crushed and internal organs damaged needs much more than time to heal their injury. They need to go through a process in order to get well.
The person who has a heart attack or is diagnosed with cancer requires a number of things to happen in order for them to recover.
When someone you love dies there is a huge blow to your spirit and your psyche.
The weight of this impact is no less significant than a heart attack, a tumour or a serious automobile accident.
I remember a conversation that I had with Janice.
“ My friends say things like ‘time heals all’ and ‘in time you will feel better’. But I’m worse off now than when Ted died 4 months ago. The pain doesn’t get any better I just pretend better. When I had a heart attack three years ago. I received so much care and support. I had to change my diet, and my life style. I will use medication and live differently for the rest of my life. I only got better by doing things differently and by addressing what caused my heart attack in the first place. Why do my friends think I’m going to get better now with time?”
Poor Janice, she expresses what so many feel.
Time alone will not heal you where your grief and the accompanying feelings are concerned.
You will need to do your grief work. Those are the 3R’s that I wrote about earlier and you will need to find ways to be honest about your feelings knowing that they are not right or wrong or good and bad.