You may have found yourself asking these and many more questions after the loss of your loved one. The truth is, no-one knows the answer, which is likely frustrating and depressing to read. It is different for everyone.
We are accustomed to quick fixes, immediate solutions, and move-on mentality. Grief is not like that. Grief is something you must give yourself time to move through. It is not a linear path based on stages of grief, rather it is dependent on your active participation in the process.
Grief work can be difficult, scary, and intense. The effort that you put into your grief recovery is well worth the time and energy. It will help you find the “you” that was lost, give you tools to move forward and the ability to experience peace, joy, and happiness once again.
There are many pieces to move through grief however, I find that my clients struggle the most with patience. Patience with those around them and patience with themselves.
Why would you, the one who has lost a loved one, the one who is grieving, the one who is in pain, be the one to practice patience with those around you? From my own experience, friends truly care and want to help. In spite of their best efforts, they sometimes stumble over their words and make the situation worse.
One of my clients, Jasmine, told me she made plans with friends and ultimately cancelled because she was not up to being around other people. Unfortunately, one of her friends took it personally, not understanding it was about her grief. This caused a rift between them and created more anxiety for Jasmine.
I told Jasmine to be patient with her friend. Give her the grace that she was doing her best to support her. This time is difficult for you, and it is difficult for them to see you suffering. After all they are not trained counselors or grief specialists! How could she expect them to understand where she was coming from? Their understanding of her circumstances was limited.
You also need to be patient with the process of grief. There is not a timeline for it. Once on a grief journey, always on a grief journey. The journey is with you the rest of your life because you will have the memories of your loved one forever and don’t you want it that way?
While I say your grief journey never ends it does get better, it does get easier. Time is a component to healing. Healing does not happen by itself. So, what can you do to help yourself?
- Accept that your loved one has gone before you. While this may be difficult, holding onto the thought they will return will only hinder your ability to move forward.
- Accept that you can grieve and give yourself permission to do so.
- Accept that you can heal and give yourself permission to do so.
- Understand there is fear associated with healing
- Identify and face your fears
- Overcome your fears
- Use a “wholistic’ approach to healing that includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
If all of this seems foreign to you, you are not alone. You may find that talking to someone other than friends or family may be helpful. It could be a grief counselor, therapist, or grief specialist to guide you.
You may still ask, “How long is it going to be like this?” I wish I could give you a black and white answer. I can tell you, do your grief work. It works. It will help reduce how long you experience the deep pain and suffering. Ultimately be patient with yourself.