Grief changes you on the inside. It causes you to shift priorities and see the world through new eyes. That’s not a bad thing, but at the time, when grief is heavy, it can be overwhelming. It isn’t just missing your loved one – it is an all encompassing, world changing, internal exploding event.
Yet, around you, life goes on and everyone seems to easily “forget” that which shifted your universe forever.
Grief is so life-altering, that it catches you off guard. In the middle of grief, you may feel as if you are going crazy. It’s scary. But trust me, you aren’t – it’s just grief.
Those around you may think you’ve become irresponsible, distant, aloof, and even unpredictable. They can’t understand what you are going through unless they’ve been there. They’ll learn.
If you are in the middle of experiencing deep grief (and I’m not talking about the grief that comes when you are sad a few days), here are some things you may experience.
- Feeling numb – A gift from God, to help our brain, emotions, and body deal with the stress of the loss. For me, it lasted about 6 months, and I was grateful for it. It lasts differing lengths for everyone.
- Experiencing brain fog or forgetfulness – After my husband passed, I would forget dinner engagements with family and friends. Not because I didn’t want to see them – my brain was so consumed with grief it literally couldn’t hold the information. Gary and I both experienced, after the death of our first spouses, times when we would suddenly forget normal events and have to be reminded, often. We also each experienced moments where we’d be driving and suddenly realize we’d forgotten where we were going.
- Difficulty being in crowds – Even though I’m normally a fairly outgoing person, it was as if my brain was on overload, and the thought of being in a crowd overwhelmed me. I loved going to church, as I could sit in a pew secluded with a friend and God. It fed and soothed me, but going to a party where I’d be expected to mingle was more than I could take.
- Difficulty in carrying on simple conversations – Having to listen and concentrate on a conversation for very long brought on feelings of panic. My brain couldn’t handle it.
- Sudden intense emotion – Even months after our losses, both Gary and I noted that even small things would trigger deep emotions of sadness, with crying, that required our immediate attention. Believe it or not, these are gifts (even if embarrassing) to off load emotions our body must deal with. People understand.
- Difficulty maneuvering daily routines – A short time after Norman passed, a friend asked me how she could help. “Could you please sit down with me and go over the things I need to do in a week. Help me set up a schedule. I can’t seem to do that for myself right now.” It helped greatly.
- Diminished ability to handle stress – There may be literally mountains of paperwork to be completed – especially if the death is a spouse or a parent. It can take months to sort out. If you lost your spouse, you suddenly need to learn new tasks and routines that your spouse performed. This all needs to be done, while grieving. The responsibility is immense, and adding any other stress – even if seemingly “mundane or simple” can be too much.
- Difficulty sleeping – Gary and I, after the deaths of our first spouses, each found we dreaded going to bed, choosing instead to watch TV late into the night. Bedtime is a time when the busyness of daily activity ceases and no one is around but “me and my thoughts”.
- Total loss of energy – This is a common feeling when dealing with grief. The body is consumed in dealing with extremely heightened emotions, using all its resources for that task. In addition, many who’ve lost a loved one had months or years prior to their spouses death where they were needed to care for the ailing loved one. The body just shuts down for a time in order to heal.
- Life has become a long dark tunnel – A friend who recently lost her son, stated her life seemed to be going in slow motion in the dark, while all her friends seemed to have left her behind. I felt the same.
Fortunately, these feelings diminish with time, if the grief is dealt with and not shoved aside in fear; and if healthy relationships are a regular part of your life.
God is faithful, and grieves with us. He is not aloof to our grief.
Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. Psalm 23:4 (TLB)
Tomorrow, let’s discuss some things that assist in traveling through this time. I hope that recognizing you aren’t crazy, and you aren’t alone in your experience, eases your fear. Also, if you are a loved one looking on, may this list help you navigate your loved one’s emotions with less fear.
As always, if you want to talk, or need prayer, please email me below – I keep every conversation confidential.
With love and prayers,