When it comes to grieving, many people are blindsided as to how different their experience of grief is from what they had expected. There are moments or days when you feel you have a handle on things, then there are moments or days you feel so tired of the fight, it feels like a sucker punch that literally brings you to your knees.
One thing is for sure, the topsy-turvy nature from one moment or day to the next when we are grieving can lead to a feeling of uncertainty. We humans, all of us, are sense-making creatures and we do this by seeking simple descriptions from the world around us. But grieving is far from simple. It is complex, and full of ups and downs and this can make it hard at times to imagine feeling better at all, or of ever improving, or progressing or moving forward. We can often question our ‘progress’ – asking ourselves will I ever feel whole again? You might think, I’ve been fine, now I’m sitting here bawling my eyes out! In any case, conceptualising ‘progress’ in grief can be hard due to its fluctuating nature and the fact that there is no specific trajectory or endpoint.
It can be helpful to be mindful of the following things when trying to ‘measure progress’ in grief.
It’s wise not to compare or measure yourself in the present moment to who you were prior to losing your beloved pet. Things are different now, you are different now, and your loss has had an impact upon you and your life. Don’t beat yourself up for this, we are all changed by loss. If you got out of bed, if you showered, if you managed a telephone call or a little walk, perhaps you saw the sunshine for the first time in a little while, feel proud of yourself.
Proposed theoretic models of stages and tasks in grief are “responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss” (helpguide.org). Don’t be concerned about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in. You are unique, and that’s completely okay.
Be aware of the pressure and expectations, subtle or otherwise that family, friends, co-workers etc (society) may place on you about your ‘pace of grieving’ as this can lead again to questioning yourself about how you are doing, and the progress you have or haven’t made. Remember everyone is different, as is every loss.
Learning to adapt to life without your beloved pet by your side can be very hard. As mentioned there will be ups and downs, that’s one thing we can be sure of in grief. If you are finding the intensity of how you are feeling is overwhelming you and you need support, seek out a non-judgemental person to talk with.
“Healing from grief isn’t the result of smoothly navigating a journey. Healing from grief is what happens when you get up each day and decided to keep walking” – Litsa Williams & Eleanor Haley.
Pic Credit: justin-koblik-431935-unsplash