Even when we consciously make a change, it can be challenging. Loss is a major change that is imposed upon — sometimes suddenly. You could call that major change “grief.” It changes you more than you might imagine. There are practical changes, of course, when someone is missing from your daily existence. But, in a more unexpected but powerful way, grief can change your outlook on life.
As we will discuss below, there are short-term changes that require our immediate attention. They cannot be ignored or suppressed. Meanwhile, more systemic long-term changes are looming. These will cause pain but also offer profound opportunities.
The Immediate Impacts of Grief and Loss
Whether you knew the loss or event was coming or not, it will feel like a jolt. Brace yourself from some rough sailing as you navigate the seemingly endless waves. In literal terms, look out for:
- Loss of focus: You may become more forgetful and have trouble making decisions.
- Routines get out of whack: Your sleep patterns are disrupted. You may not feel hungry enough to eat. The last thing you want to do is exercise. As a result, fatigue and low energy seep into your life.
- Worry: Loss and grief remind us of our vulnerability. This can lead to bouts of worry, anxiety, and panic. What will happen next?
- Short temper: You don’t have the resilience to deal with day-to-day BS. You feel agitated and impatient. As a result, you may find yourself in conflict with even your most trusted companions.
- Feeling alone: It’s more than the loss of a loved one. You may think no one understands what you’re going through. You choose to withdraw and isolate.
All of the above (and more) is normal. As long as it doesn’t lead to thoughts of self-harm or risky behaviors, you will work through it with the help of others in your life. It’s not that you’ll get “back to normal.” You now live in a new normal and that’s where the long-term changes must be faced.
Grief Changes You Forever
Depending on who the deceased person was to you, your life will be different in several ways. Even the smallest reminders — the scent of a perfume or a certain time of year — can set off a new wave of grieving. Life may seem less fair than it did before the loss. It is vital that you keep tabs on yourself and ask for help when needed.
At the same time, though, you may begin to recognize some unexpectedly positive developments. For example:
- You may develop closer relationships with others impacted by the loss
- The little things may feel less urgent and worthy of your emotion
- You find strength inside yourself that you didn’t even know was there
- From the depths of grief, you can develop the courage to change things in your life that make you feel stuck
- When encountering someone in a sour mood, you can more easily give them the benefit of the doubt
It may surprise but it’s also not unusual to discover that you feel more capable of comforting others when they experience a loss. People may reach out to you for support and guidance. Your painful experiences can provide solace to them — and now, to you.
Grief is Serious Business
Many universal themes exist but still, everyone mourns differently. If something feels “off” for you, it’s always best to get some help. Untended grief can become complicated. Sometimes all it takes is finding a place where you feel safe to explore and name your emotions. That’s why so many people seek out therapy during a time of bereavement.
Contact me soon so I can help you during this period of your life through grief counseling.