We all have lost someone at some point in our lives. As humans, we connect with other humans, which means we will always feel the effect when someone we know—whether they are close to us or not—passes away. Regardless of the circumstances, we grieve in many of the same ways, and yet different ways. That’s just how life is. And while it’s hard to feel this, it’s even harder when we put expectations on ourselves for how we should grieve. This puts unnecessary pressure on us and is not something you or I or anyone else deserves.
I’ve been through varying degrees of grief myself, and each time I have to remind myself to be gentle with myself. I don’t like the feeling, as I imagine no one does, but it’s part of the human experience and the connection I’ve experienced thus far. I want to share 5 things I learned about myself during the process—reminders that I hope you will carry with you, too.
1. There’s No Timeline For Grieving
Whether you just lost someone or something in your life—a friend, a job, a relationship—or it’s been months or even years, it’s normal to feel grief at different points in your life. Grief comes and goes in waves; it can hit you when you least expect it, or it may not hit you even though you think it would in certain instances. Whether your grief still feels heavy after years or not as heavy as you would have thought after only a few weeks, grief, like most things in life, does not have a fixed timeline. Don’t pressure yourself to feel okay when you’re not, and don’t shame yourself for feeling okay and being able to move on with your life sooner than you think is “right.”
2. It’s Okay To Feel Overwhelmed
There are times where I feel extremely overwhelmed. My emotions will be all over the place. I’ll find myself crying at random moments and feeling numb at others; I’ll find myself smiling or even laughing a little, and for a moment, everything seems okay and I don’t feel sad anymore; I find myself in shock and in a state of disbelief; I’ll find myself ruminating, and sometimes I’ll find myself not even knowing what I’m feeling. And that’s okay. Grief brings on so many different emotions in each of us. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
3. Reach Out To Your Support System
It’s so important to reach out to your support system, especially when you are going through a hard time in life. If you’re in therapy, schedule a meeting with your therapist. Reach out to your loved ones—family and friends and coworkers, if you have that kind of relationship—and let them know how you’re feeling. You can tell them as much or as little as you want or need to, and if they are people who truly care about you, they will respect your wishes. Don’t worry that you feel “needy” or “weak” because you are neither. Grief is complicated and hard to deal with; everyone will go through the experience at some point in their lives and will need support. Don’t be afraid to lean on your support system and let people help you, even if it’s just someone listening to you and being there for you.
4. Take Care Of Yourself
You don’t have to have it together all the time—no one does—but please make sure you take care of yourself. Make sure you eat when you’re hungry, get your showers in at some point during the day, get enough sleep, and exercise, even if it’s just taking a walk. It can be easy to neglect these things when you’re in the throes of grief, but it’s crucial to take care of yourself. It’s so important that you show yourself love, and it’s crucial to do so when you are grieving or experience any other emotional hardships in your life.
5. It’s Okay To Grieve
It’s okay to not feel okay. When you go through something traumatic—whether it’s bereavement or a broken-up relationship of some kind—it’s natural to feel sad and upset. Just about anyone would feel that way if they were in your position, even if they process grief differently than you do. You don’t ever have to be okay, and it’s more than understandable if you’re feeling less than okay, even terrible, after a significant loss in your life.
No matter how you process your grief, remember to be kind to yourself. You are struggling right now, and that is okay. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come your way, and let your soul guide you to taking care of yourself in the way that will best support you. Grief is powerful. It’s a reminder of pain and loss, but it’s also a reminder that you lived and loved. And that’s what life truly is about.