Let’s get this out of the way up front:
I’m not a therapist.
I’m just a middle-aged woman who has navigated a lot of personal loss in times past, and I am going through it again now in several aspects.
What you’re about to read are simply experiences from a fellow traveler on the road to recovery.
Grieving is Exhausting
People generally give you a few days’ grace to grieve after something happens and then their attitude tends to be, “Chop chop! Let’s go!” Meanwhile, you want to sink down into your couch and pull the blankets up to your face and keep them there. But you can’t sit on your couch forever. At least that’s the case with most people I know. There are jobs, families to take care of, bills, responsibilities, etc. Doing something besides soaking in the bathtub is necessary.
I’m not sure how other grieving people handle things but after my work is done, I get in bed and say, “Oh, thank the Lord!” I get wildly excited about a blanket and a pillow!
I never used to get as excited to sleep as I do now. And you know what? That’s okay.
It’s alright to long for bed.
It’s alright to stop running 100 miles an hour.
You might have been really out of whack before all this, even before your loss.
It’s okay to breathe.
Do it right now.
Take a deep breath.
Take another one.
Progress Isn’t Linear
Grieving is a process that not only takes time but involves steps forward and backward. If you’re expecting to only advance, think again. Most people have good days, bad days, and everything in between. For progress junkies like me, this is a challenge. I want to see RESULTS. And I want to see them NOW! This type of attitude and grieving don’t really mix.
Release yourself of the need to have all good days.
It’s okay to admit you didn’t have a good day.
The other day I got on a Zoom call that I was leading. I did my typical, “Hey! Hey! How’s everybody doing?” along with a big smile. They all started telling me about their days. And then someone piped up with, “How was your day today, Deanna?” I simply said, “It was…a day.”
It’s alright to have days where you don’t feel like you’re hitting it out of the park, with grieving or anything else 24/7.
Energy is at a Premium
My energy is limited and I have little bandwidth for absurdity. During normal times, I can handle the weight of a lot of things and people, with patience. It’s kind of what leaders do. However, I don’t have a lot of grace for ridiculousness right now. If someone walks up to me with a goofy type of prophetic word about my losses, there are crazy rebuttals in my head, and it takes everything within me to refrain from uttering them.
I didn’t want to come back to church as quickly as I did, because sometimes well-intentioned people can share their own foolish spin on your loss, and even spiritualize it, leading to frustration. When something bizarre comes up, I quickly find something else to do or someone else to talk to.
When someone approaches you with something ludicrous, like: “God gave me a dream last night about why you lost your loved one…” if all else fails, pipe up and say, “Excuse me, but I’ve got to quickly get to the restroom…” and start walking that way.
What things have you noticed about grieving?
The thing I hate to hear is, “Well, you’ll see him again”.
Thank you Deanna. I’ll take any advice you have. I’m so tired of crying.
Trite answers never help or bring healing. I wish more people taught on this in the church, as far as how to help people instead of wound them more when they go through a loss. As far as advice…I would say that people are not trying to hurt you they just don’t know better. I try to remind myself of this all the time. I love you, Norma and I am praying for you!
Deanna, Thank you for sharing your heart.
Grief is such a profound emotion. It’s like taking a gut punch over and over again. The breath is knocked out of you and there’s just a hole left deep down inside. Unless you’ve walked the road, it’s hard to articulate. And it smacks you out of nowhere, even on a good day.
The grief I’ve experienced in the past few years has been like a giant vacuum trying to suck the life out of me.
I have been seeing a Christian counselor every week or two since my husband suffered a stroke seven years ago. She has helped me see all the emotions and struggles I was dealing with — impatience, frustration, anger, insomnia, etc., were all symptoms of grief in disguise. That realization didn’t change my grief but it made me face it head on and acknowledge how broken (crushed is a better word) I was inside from loss. Facing it helped me begin healing.
The recent loss of Deborah caused me quite a few steps backwards. I skipped a couple of church activities because I just couldn’t field comments or questions. Lots of time reading the Word, pouring out my heart to God, and just allowing myself to be so, so sad has helped me be able to engage again.
Grief is an emotion but it is definitely also a process — and it’s one that has to run its course.
I have found that as I move through losses in my life, I eventually come to a place where thoughts of the person or situation no longer hurt quite so much, I can think of them without immediately crying, and remembering no longer wrecks the rest of my day. The process takes time and it absolutely cannot be rushed.
God is my strong tower and through it all I can run to Him and I’m safe. In my grief, He holds me tight and tells me it will all be okay. And I know it will.
Susan, my heart hurts for you in the loss of Deborah and all else you have faced. You prayed so hard, for so long….and to the end, right as she went into the arms of Jesus. You were there, faithfully! I am continuing to pray for you. I realize this is a super hard time. xoxoxo