I forgot how much grief hurts. Sounds stupid but it’s one of those pains I try not to remember. It’s both physically and emotionally exhausting, sucking out joy wherever it goes. It’s not always about death. We grieve many things but the commonality is that it is permanent. We don’t grieve the temporary.
There are different levels and intensities. The information runs through personal filters defining the emotion. It may be relief if someone is ill or devastation if it is unexpected. Unconsciously we assign code to the event that drives this. This doesn’t make it hurt less but in some cases, like illness, the grieving may start before the event so it appears outwardly to be shorter.
There is a guilt. You wonder if you could have changed the outcome. “What ifs” are the worst. Regrets can take you down. The best you can do is get a lesson going forward. There is no point in dwelling on what you can’t change.
There is a “litany” of grief. I relive every grief ever suffered. I grieve over the loss of my parents so many years ago, relationships that blew up and friends/pets that passed.
It comes in waves like nausea. You can feel a barf coming up and you have seconds to get yourself to someplace private. It’s the same with grief. You are perfectly fine, focusing on something else when the throat tightens up, the vocals cords paralyze and your eyes well up. There are seconds before big sobs take over and there is no control. You hope your friends understand and they do.
I get claustrophobic. I want to get out for distraction and then I can’t stand being there. I have no idea when this is going to happen. I do activities alone so I can leave immediately without being noticed.
Routine is soothing. Favorite shows and activities are like rubbing smooth stones. The worst losses happen during holidays when routines are interrupted.
A weight sits on your shoulders. You become immune to it because it’s always there except for that one second after you wake up and before you remember. It lifts so slowly that you don’t notice until one day it’s not there, at least not as much.
You can’t shortcut the feelings no matter what big pharma says. It’s best to work through it or it will recur.
There are things you can do that will help – deep breaths (lots of them); exercise, walking is good although physically exhausting yourself is better; get out despite not wanting to; talk even if you are repeating the same thing; allow it to wear you out so you can recover. Join a grief group. There you can talk without making your friends crazy.
People either eat when stressed or don’t eat when stressed. Trying to maintain normal works best but make yourself feel good even if it’s too many carbs. There is never too much chocolate.
If anyone has anything that worked for you, please share. It maybe something that the rest of us didn’t think of.
Author’s note: These are personal reflections. Your reaction may be very different. Also this is grief and not clinical depression which it can kick off but is very different.