We lose people all the time—too many times. To divorce, to death, and to affairs. Regardless of whether our loved one leaves the face of this earth, we stop loving them due to various reasons, or they walk out on us, the loss is felt just the same.
The pain of losing someone you loved makes you question all the wonderful memories you created with them. You question your worth and your existence. You blame the other, the doctors, the timing, and the neighbors. You blame yourself.
They take their care, their love, their vows, their promises, everything. You wonder if this world will ever be the same. Your small bubble without them.
As you move through the five stages of grief, sometimes in reverse order and sometimes skipping certain stages altogether, you draw on coping strategies that you have learned along the way.
1. You make yourself busier than a bee
From attending to matters of the funeral to getting back to work the next week, you keep yourself busy. If you are going through a divorce, you busy yourself with legal work, living arrangements, spousal support, and coparenting.
You work like a horse during the day until you pass out from fatigue and pain at night. You leave your feelings absolutely no room to breathe. You ensure there is so much more to deal with, though these matters may be trivial at times.
2. You recede into your own world
Because you don’t want to answer people about how your loved one or your relationship passed on. Reliving details of death and baggage of a relationship is not what you want to do right now.
People always ask questions to quench their curiosity. Insensitive things just pour out of their mouths without them even trying. You feel it’s better to just stay at home and be on your own so you can shield yourself from all these people.
3. You watch too much numbing TV
Or play games or drink or read fantasy books nonstop. You do anything else that can keep you at the facade of your feelings. Anything that will make the hours melt into minutes. Anything that lets you escape your loss.
As you recede into your own world, you have to find a way to fill your lonely days, so you invent new hobbies or devour a Netflix series that you don’t even like. You just don’t want to be alone with your feelings.
4. You make drastic changes in life
You’ve already lost the love of your life, so not much matters to you anymore. Anything you value can be taken away from you in a split second. You’ve now been reminded that time on earth is limited for everyone, like it was for your loved one.
You take a hard, long look at your life without them. And you make changes, big ones. You move cities and change professions. You color your hair pink. And then blue. Although these changes may seem like distractions, if you align these drastic changes with your values and what you want to do in life, you will attain slow-but-steady progress in the end.
5. You hide and cry
Your distractions hide at night when everything becomes darker. Feelings ambush you from all corners of the night when no one else is looking. Nothing can hold your attention anymore, and you cry under the cold covers.
When tears start rolling, they never seem to stop. You succumb to the power of release. You weep your heart out and empty your feeling reservoir so you can take on tomorrow like the warrior that you are.
6. You avoid your triggers like the plague
Their friends, their family, and what they used to have for breakfast remind you of them. You avoid grocery stores, travel destinations, pubs, and restaurants that you have fond memories of. Memories that include your loved one. Memories that you can’t bear to hold in your heart anymore. Memories that are lopsided with grief now.
This is another reason why you try to stay at home as much as possible. Home is the place where you have some control over your triggers. Even if a trigger knocks on your Instagram page, you can risk falling into pieces in the safe place that you call home.
7. You find it hard to wake up and face the day
Some days are harder than others. Your body catches up and you have zero energy to face the day. A day that’s different from all your past days with your loved one. You wonder who will make you breakfast today, who will rub your feet, who will listen to your stressful workday.
You lay in bed for five minutes, which turns into two hours of social media scrolling or staring out the window. You dread the day that has dawned despite your lack of enthusiasm, but you slowly rise with regret and make your way out into the world.
8. You keep their memories in a box in the corner
But you neither throw the box away nor organize it. It just stays there like a ghost from your past. You keep piling sheaves of urgent to-do lists over this box, soothed by the comfort of knowing that the box is still there. It will always be there. You know that one day you will be able to open this box and sort through its contents without a trace of anger or remorse.
If you feel like you’ve been grieving for too long—believe me, you will know when it has been too long, and this is not when people tell you that you should have moved on already—and you are ready to experience a sliver of joy, please work through your loss so you can take care of yourself and avoid depressive episodes.