Welcome. You have just been enrolled in a class that you didn’t want to join, where you will learn things you had hoped you would never have to know.
There is no teacher, no textbooks and no timeline for when the class will end.
This knowledge and this experience will make you a stranger to those who know you. You’ll feel like a stranger to yourself. You are a student of your grief and there is so much for you to learn.
When dealing with grief, you’ll be expected to master a number of skills in a short period of time:
- How to help those around you feel more comfortable with your grief.
- How to handle the tasks and household duties once handled by the deceased.
- When is the “right” time to clean out your loved one’s belongings.
- How to stick to a daily routine, even though it feels totally foreign as it no longer includes the person who died.
- How to go to work, the grocery store, car mechanic, dry cleaners, pharmacy, hardware store, while the world continues to turn, even though it seems like there’s no sense to any of it.
- How to maintain connections and relationships to friends and family, even if you feel misunderstood, isolated and alone.
- How to function each day while getting almost no sleep each night.
- How to plan your day, organize life and activities and remember everything (birthdays, where you put your purse, or parked the car) all while feeling scattered, fuzzy-headed and out of sorts.
- How to prepare for a future that has changed in every way since your loved one has died.
There is a 10th and the final lesson at the end of this class if you look hard enough:
How to hope.
Hope for a future where things make sense again. Hope for a time when there won’t be such acute pain grief following you wherever you go. Hope for a return to the rest of society – to that place of plans and to the comfort of trivial concerns.
As a graduate from the school of dealing with grief, there is potential to see life with a new perspective. To feel gratitude to those who reached out and cared.
Remember that you can reach out to others who are experiencing what you’ve experienced.
When you visit our forums, you’ll find stories of people dealing with sudden loss, who are asking themselves the types of questions you might be asking: Did I go back to work too soon? Will I ever feel like myself again?
There are also places to share your story if you’re dealing with grief in the wake of a suicide, the loss of a parent or spouse, or coping with a miscarriage.
As you read and share stories, you can begin to see in yourself a strength and resilience that you never knew was there.
With luck and perseverance you’ll learn the lesson that hope can only be found as we do the work of grieving in our hardest and darkest of times.