I’ve always had a hard time with grief. Been described way too emotional. Struck with an emotional intensity whenever I’ve experienced death close to me and when a person I know has experienced death close to them. I can’t explain my response. I can’t stop myself from experiencing these emotional intensities. Always have been and always will be. This is me.
I recall thinking, “What am I feeling? What’s wrong with me.” Expecting to feel something different. Why? Because that’s what I’ve been taught. It has led me to wonder why I felt the way I did. What am I supposed to feel? How does this all work? Where do I even begin? The beginning I suppose.
Grief Is A Normal Response
Grief is a normal response a person experiences around loss, significant change, and/or death throughout their lifetime. Grief is not a linear path with a clear start and finish. Its path is unique and unpredictable for each person transversing six areas (emotional, physical, cognitive, spiritual, social, and behavioral).
No two individuals will have the exact same experience in the identical situation of any event. Similarly, relationships, in the general term, are uniquely developed. So, it’s no wonder grief encompasses all emotions. Shock, anger, relief, regret, guilt, shame, sadness, frustration, and confusion are only a few that may be experienced. It’s important to note, not all individuals will have all emotions during each grieving process nor should it be expected. What a person feels is appropriate for that moment they are in. There is no right or wrong.
The body is striving to do its best while the brain has thoughts on overdrive or stalled within the flooded gates. The physical body is communicating about what is currently happening. This may show up as muscle tightness, aches & pains, increased heart rate & palpitations, digestion issues, compromised immune system, low energy, and eating & sleeping challenges. The brain is conducting thoughts searching for meaning and handling worries, concerns, frustrations, sadness, confusion, anger, shock, regret, guilt, shame.
Trying to process what’s being experienced, beliefs and faith add to and may be challenged. Testing what we have learned and come to know as our life foundation. Understandings are jumbled and, at times, appear to be thrown out the window. Adding to the endless questions, searching, and confusion.
At this point in my learning, I’m feeling tired and ready to pause. But, we’re not finished. There are two remaining areas (social and behavior) to include for consideration. As I work towards a sense of understanding, the social area is where I’m looking for validation of what I’m experiencing. To express me. To be heard. Where expectations, from others and self, influence the “playing out” of the grieving experience. Here’s where I’ve learned, I’m “too emotional.”
Additionally, behavioral changes are normal and may be displayed in the forms of irritability, getting upset more easily, lack of focus & concentration, crying, pacing, and/or increased isolation. Really? It’s normal? Yes.
OMGosh! When I look at the grieving process from this perspective, no wonder I struggle. Each of the six areas (emotional, physical, cognitive, spiritual, social, and behavioral) are trying to process the experience simultaneously. Doing their best to be supportive and validating.
It makes sense why grief is not all the same. Taking this moment to pause, be in the moment, and allow me an opportunity to rediscover what’s involved in processing grief has been validating. To know there are six areas trying to do their best to communicate with me about my experience and how uniquely mine the experience is at this moment. That there is no right or wrong way. Each individual processes grief differently and this is mine for this particular grief event.