What New Grief Is Like

When grief is brand new, there is often a great deal of confusion. The person grieving is lost, disorientated and very unsure. Those who are close to the one who is hurting are usually in a difficult spot. They aren’t sure what to do or how to help.

If you are grieving, you will likely be having some feelings unlike anything you have experienced before. You may find some comfort in knowing what you are feeling is to be expected. It may be helpful to know you’re probably not going crazy and you might find some peace in knowing that your state of mind is even encouraged.

Grief and its many accompanying feelings can and usually do last a very long time, and really there are no guarantees you will feel and suffer the same emotions as the next person. It’s not uncommon, however, to be so overcome with loss and emptiness, especially at the beginning, that everything feels and seems somehow unreal.

New, acute grief can be compared to the feeling of being in a power outage at night. In an instant there is confusion, disorientation and likely even fear.

What just happened? What should I do and what will happen now, are all feelings that may overtake you. Am I safe? Should I stay still or move? How do I get help? Can anyone else see?

These are all reactions that are to be expected when someone you love dies and your world is torn.

I can remember years ago, not long after I got my driver’s license, being the driver in a fairly serious automobile accident. Even though I wasn’t physically hurt, I was dazed and confused to the point of disorientation.

Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. My friend, who was older and certainly wiser, recognized what was happening to me as I reacted to the traumatic events that just took place. He took me by the arm, led me to safety, sat me on the side of the road and spoke gently and quietly to me. I have no idea what he said, but I remember his caring tone and presence.

I also remember clearly, even all these years later, a feeling of being stunned and uncertain. Was I hurt? What should I do? What will happen now? These were all things I was feeling and went on feeling very strongly for some time. Even though my accident involved broken metal and not broken lives, I was in a state of shock for some time to come.

I want you to know when you lose someone very important; you have lost much more than a partner or a parent, a child or a friend. You have lost an essential bearing. Someone is gone and something is taken from you that kept you anchored and stable. They had an important part in keeping your world balanced.

The things you saw for yourself, both in terms of your future and your emotional well being are now gone. And because of that, you can expect to feel shock, confusion and an acute sense of being lost without any compass at all.

For now, I want you to know you are in the midst of a trauma and if you find yourself completely lost, dazed, unsure and frightened, try and take some comfort in the fact you are not losing your mind; you are simply shaken to the core.