Death is a universal experience that we will all have to deal with at some point. Grief after losing a loved one affects everyone differently and it’s something which is particularly difficult to prepare for as most people find the subject uncomfortable and prefer not to talk about it at all.
Everyone deals with grief differently and there’s no right or wrong way to mourn a loved one. Processing your feelings after losing a loved one can be really difficult and confusing, so it’s important to know that what you’re going through is normal.
Here’s our list of 10 things nobody tells you about grief and loss.
You can never be fully prepared for loss
No matter how old you are, you can never be totally prepared for the death of a loved one. Even if their passing didn’t come as a surprise (after a long battle with a terminal disease such a cancer, for example), we still don’t really expect death, and there’s really nothing we can do to prepare for grief.
Feeling guilty or angry is completely normal
You’re likely to relive the day your loved one passed a thousand times over and think about all the things you could’ve done differently. You may even find some sort of way to blame yourself for their death, you may find yourself asking: ‘Maybe if I’d been a better son/ daughter?’, or ‘I should have noticed that he/she was sick.’
Focusing on past arguments and punishing yourself for not being the perfect son, daughter, partner, or friend will not help you to grieve and will only make you feel worse. It’s hard to accept the things we can’t change about the past, but it’s important to try and let these things go and to think of the happier memories you shared with your loved one.
Greif can be messy
Some people talk about the five stages of grief as if they’re set in stone, but the truth is that often enough, these stages do not all happen chronologically – if at all. The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
These stages will affect everyone differently, and you may even find that you don’t experience one or multiple stages at all. Grief has no expiry date, it could take weeks, months, or even years to finally accept the death of a loved one, and that’s okay too.
Things may get worse before they get better
You’ll have days where you’ll feel really down and nothing will make you feel better. There may even be days where you won’t even want to get out of bed, and that’s completely normal.
If you do feel like you’re really struggling with the death of loved one, remember that there is always someone you can talk to, whether that’s a trusted friend or family member, a religious official or even a counselor. You are not alone.
You don’t have to be strong all the time
If you lose a loved one as an adult, especially if you have children, you may feel pressured to be stay strong and put on a brave face for everyone else. But remember that you can only hide your feelings and push down your pain for so long before it becomes really unhealthy.
Despite what you may think, nobody expects you to stay composed all the time, it’s okay for you break down and have an outburst of emotion. Be honest with your feelings and accept help and support from others. The silver lining of losing a loved one is that it’ll bring you and your friends and family much closer together.
You may feel completely lost
After losing someone who was very close to you, like a parent, a partner or a sibling for example, you may feel completely lost and alone, as if you’ve lost a part of yourself. Things will be difficult for a while and you’ll always miss your loved one, but in time, you’ll start to feel like yourself again.
You’re likely to learn a lot more about your family, and you may not like it
Nothing can make grieving for a loved one harder than greedy relatives fighting over their estate.
It’s horrible to think about, but after the death of loved one, some relatives (some who you may never have even heard of) may try and take advantage of an awful situation. Times like these can really bring out the worst in people, with some families having to deal with fighting over coffin prices or even relatives stealing the more valuable belongings of the deceased, regardless of what it says in the will.
When it comes to avoiding future family chaos, clear communication and planning is absolutely essential.
It’s okay if you don’t cry
When you first hear the news that a loved one has passed away, you may not feel anything at all. For weeks or even months after losing a loved one, many people feel totally numb, as if they’re in a dream or running on autopilot. Everyone experiences grief differently, so please don’t feel like a monster if you seem to be coping with the loss in a different way than your friends and family.
The truth may take a while to sink in
No matter how rational a person you are, you’ll still expect your loved one to walk back through the door one day. You may spend a lot of time imaging scenarios where they come back, which will be both painful and comforting at the same time.
Death can be awkward
After losing a loved one, you’ll have to tell friends and family about their passing. Death can make people feel really uncomfortable and awkward, but it doesn’t mean they don’t care.
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