No Time to Grieve: Can we be too busy for grief?

GrieveThese days everyone is busy. Ask anyone you haven’t seen in awhile how they’ve been and they’re likely to answer, “busy!”. This won’t be a surprise to most, but something that I didn’t expect in the midst of our very busy lives is how many newly bereaved people I’ve met who are (or think they are) just too busy to grieve.

Let’s face it, for some, taking the time to grieve and find support may feel like a luxury or indulgence. It may even go so far as to feel like self-indulgence, or extravagance. With life moving so fast and so many other things to do, and in most cases, so many other people to take care of, does every mourner truly have the chance, or give themselves the chance and time they need to grieve?

The reasons someone may not allow themselves time to grieve are varied and numerous- and they may not always be what you’d think:

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Abusing Alcohol After Loss

Abusing Alcohol After Loss: How Self-Medicating Hinders Healing

Abusing AlcoholIn the very early days of loss, many grievers will describe feeling as if they’re in a constant fog or haze. A fog so thick that it can bundle several weeks or months into one big blur. And as terrible as that may sound, the lifting of this fog can create a stark reality so blinding it can be almost impossible to bear. It’s the reason so many grievers will describe their grief as getting worse as time passes. While we expect time to be a healer, those who have had a loss will usually find they are struggling more as the weeks and months go by.

The timing is misaligned in every way. Just as the support is slowing down,  as friends and family are checking in less and expecting the griever to be doing better, the weight, reality, and magnitude of loss is just starting to sink in.

It’s about this time when a griever begins to wonder what now and what comes next. Who am I and where do I go from here?

Deciding to self medicate isn’t usually a “decision” at all. For many it’s something that just sort of happens. A glass of wine after dinner, a drink out with a friend. The softening of the hard edges of grief, the numbness…for some it may just be too hard to resist.

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How Grief Changes Us: Forever & For Now

Grief is change. It changes our life, our routine, our plan and right along with it, grief changes us.  Change is hard under the best of circumstances (new job, a wedding, a baby), but the changes we don’t ask for can be intolerable. Some of these changes will be forever and long lasting, but some will only be part of the acute and early stages of grieving (whatever that timeline looks like for you). And some of these changes aren’t necessarily all bad.Changes

Losing a loved one is just about the worst thing that can happen to any of us. But the feeling of losing ourselves can make a tough time even harder to cope. Because if we don’t feel like ourselves, what strengths and skills can we possibly draw upon?

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Loss Of A Loved One: A Personal Account

The Loss Of A Loved One~contributing article by Charlotte Underwood, Mental Health Advocate & Freelance Writer

Loss

Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a loved one and the grief that surrounds you.

When you lose a loved one, you have to learn to live a life without them in it, but how can you when all you’ve ever known is to have them by your side?

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Food as Fuel for Self Care and Healing

FoodThere’s something very special about food, especially when we examine the relationship we each have with it. For some, food is simply a way to fill a physical void, to rid ourselves of the unpleasant sensation of hunger. For others, food may fill an emotional emptiness, a way to escape mental and emotional pain.

And then there’s those who find themselves in the midst of a great loss, not feeling it matters too much one way or the other. With so many distractions filling the griever’s head, it’s possible this very basic need isn’t given too much thought at all.

Changes in diet or eating habits can be very common in grief, though the exact reasons for that seem to vary from one person to another, and the role food can play as a source of healing should not be overlooked:

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Feeling Lost After Loss

“I’m feeling so lost…”

Lost

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s how universal the experience of grief is. As unique a journey as each griever travels, there are still so many commonalities that connect the bereaved to one another, and nowhere is this more evident then right within the forums of www.griefincommon.com.

Occasionally it seems that a particular theme pops up (the blog “What to Do If You Don’t Know What To Do After Loss” was born from this) and the importance of this just can’t be ignored.

Recently I’ve noticed how often a griever has started their story with, “I’m feeling so lost”. I would guess just about every griever has said this at one point or another. But I couldn’t help but wonder, what does it really mean? And does it mean the same thing to each person?

Merriam-Webster lists 9 meanings for the word “lost” and all of them seem to apply, in one way or another, to the griever:

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Stillbirth & Miscarriage Loss: A Personal Account

Only a parent who has experienced the loss of a child through stillbirth or miscarriage can understand the pain of losing someone they never got to meet.

Stillbirth

For most grievers, happy memories can be painful or even bittersweet at times…but memories are something this type of grieving parent will never get a chance to have.

This is a loss that is not usually validated and is often misunderstood. People may think, or even say, “why don’t you just try to get pregnant again?”, as if one child can easily be switched out and replaced by another.

After this type of loss, some will never get the chance to become a parent. So then what? What to do with the emptiness, the void, the longing and yearning of an instinct that can never be answered?

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Grief Story: The Importance of Sharing Your Loss

Throughout our lives, we love to tell stories. Telling our children about the day they were born, or how their Mommy and Daddy met. We love to tell funny stories, old stories, and sad stories… but the one that may be most important to share: your grief story.  Grief Story

You may not have ever called it that, but a grief story is something every griever has and it’s one of the most important parts of the bereavement process.

I find for most the grief story follows a familiar pattern:

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Finding Purpose After Loss

Finding PurposeFinding purpose…what a very big and very grand idea, and one that we may not spend a lot of time exploring prior to loss. Perhaps because when life is “good” our purpose is pretty clear. While it may not be glamorous, or something worthy of history remembering our name, most people are finding purpose in their day-to-day lives, even if they’re not looking for it. Going to work, raising a family, finding involvement within church and community, even a hobby or past time can plan our days and fill our lives and give us direction, along with the “why” we’re getting up and out of bed each day.

When writing about loss, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of how different grievers can be. Different backgrounds, different supports, different styles of coping. What’s also very different is how far along in their grieving someone may be, and how ready they are to accept help and ideas as they’re offered. In the beginning, with the shock and numbness of loss it can be hard to see beyond the thick fog of grief and immediate pain.

This writing is for those who may be a little further along. The timeline doesn’t matter so much as the feeling. And when a griever gets there, they’ll know it. While always sad in some way, always missing their loved one and always grieving, there does come a time for most when they feel ready for the next step.

The problem is knowing what that next step is.

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Post Loss Regret: the “Mistakes” We Make After Loss

We always talk about the regret a griever may have leading up to their loss – did I do enough, did I love enough, could I or should I have done more?

Regret

But plenty of grievers struggle just as much with the decisions they make after their loss. And let’s face it, without their loved one there to help with these choices, and as a person already facing the mental deficits (inability to concentrate or focus) that grief brings – “mistakes” are going to happen.

Some big, some small.

The good news is there are answers in these “mistakes”. And you’ll notice that I’ll continually put the word mistakes in quotes as I believe the things we regret and wish we could change will tell us more about what we are searching for and what we really need than we may realize. At a time when we’re looking for answers of what do to, maybe it’s our “mistakes” that will hold the answers.

But first, some of the things we may regret after loss:

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