A few weeks ago, I got a call from a gentleman looking to start therapy. In the last twelve months he buried his wife and father.
“I’m really surprised. I thought by now I’d be feeling much better. Some days I feel like I’m actually getting worse.”
Don’t fall for this!
In my line of work as a grief and loss therapist, I hear this expectation on a pretty regular basis. It is a myth that after the first year, those grieving the loss of a loved one will feel like they’ve turned a magical corner. If I could find the culprit who started this vicious rumor, I’d give it a good smack on what we Italians like to call the culo.
Grieving is not a linear process. It is dynamic-it changes over a lifetime. People often say, “You’ll have good days and bad days.” I like to break it down even further. How you feel will change from moment to moment.
You are normal…it’s all normal
Most of the time, what people who are grieving need is some education about the process. This is what my client needed. He needed to know he wasn’t “losing his mind” because he cried more now than he did a year ago. He needed to know that his recent bout with sleeplessness could be attributed to this anniversary and a continued need to mourn. Once he discovered what he was feeling, thinking, and doing was all normal his anxiety reduced and he began to sleep more easily.
Tuesdays tip: Grief is dynamic.
While it would be wonderful to think after a year life returns to “normal” that’s simply a myth. The second year is often harder than the first because the reality begins to set in. The good news is, however, that over time, we do begin to find a new normal and the pain and sorrow do subside but when that actually begins to happen is very individual.
Know someone who might benefit from this Tuesday’s tip? Please pass it on!
What have been your experiences? Following the death of a loved one, when did you notice you began to have more peaceful moments than sorrowful ones?
See you Friday for something much lighter. :-)
Suggested reading: How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies by Therese Rando, Ph.D.