If you’re bothered by specific behaviors that stem from emotional overwhelm it’s possible to better understand what and why you’re feeling the way you are by tracking your thoughts.
There are commonly two root thoughts for the guilt felt after someone dies:
Why didn’t I …?
Suddenly the bad behavior you previously tolerated from a friend, significant-other, or family member becomes completely intolerable because you no longer have the energy to explain it away or keep up the illusion that it doesn’t bother you.
You have every right to say, “Thank you for your concern, but I’d rather not talk about it right now.” You also have the right to say you’re “fine” when some colleague you hardly know asks how you’re doing.
Compassion fatigue sets in when someone becomes indifferent to your suffering because of the frequency of your need for support. It’s crappy, but it’s true. It’s also human nature.
When we are bereaved our fuse gets shorter and grace is a little harder to muster, so often we take offense to what other people say and are quick to snap back. I’m not here to invalidate your emotions or actions, but rather encourage you to take a breath and consider your reaction before responding.
There is no simple answer to this question, because the old version of “normal life” ceases to exist along with the person who was lost. To feel normal again, survivors have to develop and accept a new version of what normal means, which can take months or years.
Grief theory can’t explain everything, but it may bring some insight you can relate to or otherwise shed some light on your grief experience.
Some physical symptoms of grief may be sticking around long enough to create a concern. This could be a good time to take stock of your health and wellness.
Religion and spirituality are not the main focus of Grief Compass, but we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that they are a major influence on the way many people experience grief, and the way that grief can be complicated.
You’re not going back to work the same, though most people will expect you to. If at all possible take it easy and do your best to set reasonable expectations for yourself and clearly communicate them to your colleagues.
The key idea around the Dual Process Model is that we don’t go one way through grief—following stages or tasks in a sequence over time—but instead that we oscillate (or bounce back and forth) between being “loss-oriented” and “restoration-oriented.”
Dealing with their “stuff” is one of the hardest things to face in the wake of loss. It’s also a harsh confrontation with the unnecessity of these items given the complete absence of the person to whom they belonged.
If you’re trying to understand your own grief, a good but difficult exercise is to look back on your own life, working back from now, and list out the losses you’ve experienced.
With your grief, you’ve got enough of a burden and you shouldn’t have to be strapped with the additional responsibility of making it easier for others to interact with you, but if you can go first and offer this bit of grace to your friends and family, it can easily pay dividends in conversation that acknowledges your loved-one and your loss.
When you find yourself losing motivation, first forgive yourself, then revisit your resolutions and give yourself a solid restart. Here’s how:
Why don’t people talk about death? Why is open talk of death, or trying to support someone experiencing a significant loss feel so awkward?
Instead of using SWOT for a project we’re applying it to your life after loss to get an idea of where you’re at, and if you’re up for it, where you want to go.
grief can definitely make you feel like you’re losing touch with the normal reality you knew, which can be incredibly disorienting.
Fatigue and exhaustion are common physical side effects of grief, another common issue is difficulty sleeping. Here are a few natural ways to help get to sleep.