What New Grief Looks Like

There may be nothing else that compares to the shock, confusion, dismay and agony of having someone you care for die.

I saw it coming but…

Even when there has been a long illness and you can see the person isn’t getting better, death often arrives with such surprise and force, it’s easy to find yourself dazed, unsure and disoriented for sometime.

Your mess is a good thing

If you’re grieving, you will likely be having some feelings unlike anything you have experienced before. You may find some comfort in knowing what you’re feeling is to be expected. It may be helpful to know you’re probably not going crazy and you might find some peace in knowing your confused state of mind is healthy and encouraged.

It’s not all better in a few days

Grief and its many accompanying feelings usually last a long time, and there are no guarantees you will feel the same emotions as the next person. It’s not uncommon, however, to be so overcome with loss and emptiness, especially at the beginning, everything seems somehow unreal.

Nothing works

New, acute grief can be compared to the feeling of being in a power outage at night. In an instant there is confusion, disorientation and likely even fear.

What just happened? What should I do and what will happen now, are all feelings that may overtake you. Am I safe? Should I stay still or move? How do I get help? Can anyone else see?

It’s supposed to hurt

I want you to know when you lose someone important; you have lost much more than a partner or a parent, a child or a friend. You have lost an essential bearing. Someone is gone and something is taken from you that kept you balanced, anchored and stable.

Things you saw for yourself, in terms of your future and your emotional well-being are now gone; and because of that, you can expect to feel lost without a compass. 

I’ve lost it

When grief arrives, you’re in the midst of a trauma and if you find yourself dazed, unsure and frightened, try and take some comfort knowing you are not losing your mind; you’ve been shaken to the core and your out of sorts reactions are expected, necessary and healthy.

  • Significant losses bring grief that’s long and painful.

  • Feelings of shock, confusion, and an unreal feeling of being lost and in disbelief are common.

  • Expect to feel out of sorts for an extended period of time.

  • Your mixed up, confused emotions are a sign you’re taking in enormous change and trying to adjust.

  • You’re not doing anything “wrong” by being upset. Grief is a healthy reaction to a painful loss.

There are some short films on YouTube that address grief.  You may find something there that will be useful.

John Martin is the author of I Can’t Stop Crying, Grief and Recovery a Compassionate Guide and Help Me I Hurt. Both books are available at Amazon.