How Can You Tell If It’s Grief and What Can You Do About It?
When someone we love leaves us or dies, the neural networks in our brain that are wired for connection short out. This is a completely natural but frightening experience.
When you lose someone, you grieve the loss of the connection you had with them. You may think you’re going crazy when you’re probably just grieving.
After my husband died, I couldn’t keep track of things very well, and my emotions were all over the map. I didn’t like it, but I had to go through it.
Signs You’re Grieving
If you’ve lost someone, recently or long ago, what did you experience in the days/weeks after it happened?
Did you forget to put the wet clothes in the dryer for three days? I did. It’s normal. Did you sleep for hours without wanting to get up? Yeah, I did that, too, and it’s okay.
Did your coffee cup feel like it weighs 20 pounds? Have you felt really angry or been deeply sad? Uh huh, that’s grief, too. You may even feel guilty or afraid or find yourself laughing when you think you should be crying. Yes. Welcome to grieving.
Grief has its own schedule and time frame. You feel fine one minute and crushed under a load of gravel the next. You may feel happy or relieved, and that’s okay, too.
When Will It Get Better?
You want to feel better fast, I understand, but grief doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t move from “A” to “B.” Grief goes from “Z” to “F” to “D” and then flips over to “S.”
I’ll bet you want to “get back to normal.” But, you can’t seem to do that. Why? Because your “normal” changed when your loved one left your life, and you need time to adjust to a “new normal” of life without them.
The neural network in your brain, the one that’s wired for connection, is shorting-out because your loved one is gone, and there’s no connection at the end of the circuit. This short-circuiting is what makes you feel like you’re going crazy.
But no matter what you’re feeling, you’re probably not going crazy. You’re probably just grieving*.
How to Heal
To heal from your grief, it’s important to embrace your feelings. It’s tempting to say, “I’m okay,” but be honest. Have you been scared, sad, mad, or frustrated? These are normal emotions to have when you’re grieving.
Acknowledge your heartache with this little exercise: Make a list of a few emotions you’re feeling. Then say OUT LOUD: “It’s okay for me to feel (scared, sad, mad, frustrated). It’s normal, I’m just grieving. I’m okay.” Repeat this process with every word on your list.
And then something fascinating will happen. You’ll relax.
The good thing is, you can do this exercise as often as you need. It doesn’t take long, but it does help lift the load.
*If you are thinking about ending your life or hurting yourself, please seek help from a mental health professional or your family doctor immediately. You may need medical support as you grieve.
Have you recently experienced the loss of a loved one? How did you grieve? What crazy things did you do when absorbed by grief? Does acknowledging your emotions make you feel better? Please share how you’re coping and let’s have a conversation.