You lost someone you love, maybe a soulmate, sibling, parent, or friend. You have now entered a world of emotion that you may have never faced before to this extreme. Everything you feel, feels wrong, and the ways in which you go through life feel that way too.
Grieving is like the ocean. At first, it’s a storm, blowing the waves, knocking you down, drowning you. As the numbness sets in, the storm passes and you feel a continual lap of the waves always at your feet. Occasionally, a tsunami, or hurricane comes through out of nowhere, and knocks you off your feet before you can even prepare. And when the tides go out, the waves are always lapping, never ceasing.
After losing my husband, I thought those first few months were devastating. I couldn’t imagine feeling such horrible grief. But at six months out, the reality set in, and with it, a deep depression.
When you come to a certain time past the death of a loved one, many people expect certain things of you. They are no longer prepared to have you cry at the drop of a hat, they try not to talk about your loved one as much, and some wonder what things you are doing to ‘move on’.
The unfortunate thing is that everyone, including those of us who are grieving, have a level of expectation in the timeline of our grieving. The fact is, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It is each person’s individual journey through these bitter and raw emotions that brings us to points of decision making.
At six months out, I thought of my husband constantly. Instead of planning for myself as an individual, I found it nearly impossible to not think of what he would say, do, or decide for our future together. Unfortunately, that pit of rotting dreams gets us nowhere in the future, but it is so hard for many of us to see the world of possibilities ahead of us.
If you are a friend or loved one of someone who is actively grieving, the best thing you can do, is simply be present. I have had many friends tell me that they didn’t reply to my messages or calls because they didn’t know what they could do or say.
Despite not wanting to deal with the drama of a friend’s abandonment, it’s important to let our friends and family know that they do not need to do anything, they just need to be; be there for us, be a friend to us, and continue to be around us. I do not expect them to do anything, but to continue to be a friend.
Some friends and well meaning acquaintances ask about your future plans and what you will do with your job, dating, kids, whatever the situation may be. I have found it important to set up boundaries for what some people can and cannot talk about with me. Everyone wants to know, but not everyone needs to know, your future decisions.
When you are actively grieving, the only timeline you may be thinking about is how long it’s been since you’ve seen your deceased loved one. It’s weighed at first in hours, then days, then weeks, months, years. Besides that, the timeline for our personal lives is at a standstill for a significant amount of time.
Some of us can begin to move forward in a few months, but for others it takes years. Either timeline is not reflected on the amount of love you had for the person who passed, or for your moral ethics. The timelines are based solely on what you can or cannot do in each new day.
For those of us grieving, we often think about what is right or proper to be doing at 3 months out, 6 months out, and so on. We weigh what others will think about our decisions, and we are overly critical of each step we make in our lives. The fact is, most of us criticize ourselves even than before.
As a friend or loved one, it is important that you not criticize, but that you encourage the positive, and sway the negative. Anything that my cause serious harm should be addressed, but if the issues are those of moving, dating, money, or any of those types of matters, they are to be handled solely by the grieving party.
We, as ones in grief, know of your concern and friendship. But it is important that you understand that this is our grief journey alone. Each loss is surrounded by such individual circumstances, and while we can relate to one another, we often never fully understand each others’ journeys.
There is no correct way to grieve or move forward. Instead, as you surround yourselves with friends, family, and loved ones, understand that even with your support system, it is an individual journey of grief. This journey must be taken on solely by you, as you are the best person to understand your wants, needs, and desires for the future.