Normal Grief

BUT You’re Absolutely Normal…

Grief is a normal reaction to loss and it shows up in ways you might not expect:

Irritable, short tempered, angry… at the doctors or nurses for not doing enough; at yourself; anger at being left alone; anger at having to take on new roles or responsibilities.

Release anger through tears, ripping up paper, punching a pillow, exercise, talking to someone who understands. Give yourself time to learn new roles and take things on one at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Difficulty making decisions, forgetful, can’t concentrate… find yourself unable to concentrate on written material or unable to remember what you just read.

Write yourself reminders, post them somewhere visible. Keep your calendar, glasses, keys and bills all in special places so you can find them easily. Try not to make any major decisions for the first year.

Difficulty eating, sleep disturbances, physical symptoms… a change in appetite, upset stomach, sleeping too much or not enough, headaches, weakness, lethargy, more aches and pains

Eat small meals or at least one good meal a day, even if you are not hungry. Try not to nap during the day. Avoid caffeine and alcohol and add exercise to your daily routine.

Crying spells and extreme emotions… crying for no apparent reason, being crabby, panicking over little things, feeling guilty about things you have or have not done, feeling unbearably lonely and depressed

Allow yourself to cry; it releases tension and toxins in the body. Recognize the feelings, express and work on them; speak with someone you trust or in a group.

Restlessness… cannot keep still, considering selling everything and moving.

Exercise, keep contact with the friends and family you feel comfortable with, write down things you enjoy or enjoyed doing and try doing one of them when you are restless.

Social awkwardness… feeling that friends should call more or call less; leave you alone or invite you along more often; not wanted to attend social functions you usually enjoy.

Notice your expectations of others and of yourself; be clear in your communication with yourself and with others about what you are able to do and what you wish to do.

Need to remember and retell about your loved one… finding yourself obsessed with thoughts of your loved one. Keep a diary or a journal; find a trusted friend to talk to; join a group.

Identify what you need during this time and do what seems to help. Give yourself permission to change your routine, places you go, even your furniture arrangement if it helps. Above all, be kind to yourself and take care of yourself. It is not selfish to turn your energy inward and help yourself. Source: Anonymous. Adapted and revised by Susan Hogman, MSW, RSW.

Books on Grief for Widows:

“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion

“Widow to Widow: Thoughtful, practical ideas for rebuilding your life” by Genevieve Davis Ginsburg

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