Understanding The Grieving Process

Understanding The Grieving processConsidering what I’m going through these days, I couldn’t find a better topic than the topic of grieving to discuss on my blog today.

This summer has been a summer of loss for me. I’ve lost both my mother and my pet child, and it’s been pretty tough to lead a normal life around here.  Some days went by like on a robotic fashion, and some days have been full of sorrow and crying. Sadly, this is part of life, because life is also about loss.

A very popular French singer named Edith Piaf (that many American people know) once said; “there is no worse pain than emotional pain.” She knew what she was talking about, I’d tell you that, because she had been through quite some of that in her rather short life (she died at age 47).

Grieving the loss of a loved one; may that be a two legged on or a four legged loved one can be very hard, and the grieving process might be a hard one to go through.

The truth is that no matter what our faith and ways of comfort may be, we will still miss that being that is no longer with us.  We can’t see them, touch them, smell them, hug them or kiss them anymore, and that alone can translate in a huge vacuum that may last for a while.

However, death is not the only cause of grief; there are many others out there with can include:

  • Divorce
  • Loss for a romantic hope
  • Loss a friendship
  • Someone close terminal illness
  • Retirement
  • Loss of job
  • Miscarriage
  • Selling a home
  • A friend or family member moving away

All the above and maybe a few more that I’m forgetting can be cause for grief. I can tell you that I’ve experienced at least 3 of such grieving factors in my life and they can all send the same uncomfortable strong emotional feelings of deep sadness.  That said, however, losing someone who died is probably the strongest one of all.

So, what type of behaviors and feelings are OK when grieving? Well, the truth is that there is no specific how to book to follow. Each individual is allowed to grieve in his or her own way as you will understand in this post.

Bogus Facts About Grief

Now, I hope that you’ve never actually READ about such bogus facts about grief, but we certainly hear people mention them at times. Such bogus facts may include:

  • Grief should last about a year
  • There’s a reasonable time to grieve
  • You should be strong and it will help with your grief
  • You should grieve a certain way depending if you lose a human or a pet
  • There is a specific acceptable way to grieve according to whom or what you’ve lost
  • Stop crying and it will get better faster
  • You must accept it already

All of such statements are really bogus. There is no right or wrong in the way people grieve – some cry, some don’t, and some people go over their grief faster than others, but trying to force someone to feel what we don’t is not a good or even healthy way to help someone who is grieving.

As a matter of fact, if you were to force yourself into being or reacting in a way that’s not you, you may only set yourself up for some huge guilt trip down the road.

So, first rule of thumb when you grieve, no matter whom or what you’re grieving, do not listen to other people trying to tell you how you SHOULD feel. That’s the most ridiculous thing in the world.

If you’re telling someone who’s grieving that they actually shouldn’t feel the way they feel, you’re actually making them feel guilty on top of their grief. Not a good thing at all, wouldn’t you think?

What to Expect when you Grieve

You may or may not experience the different feelings on the following list as you’re grieving, and the reason why is that grief is a very personal thing, and may truly depend on your personality, upbringing, and beliefs.  However, people who do grieve, in general, would most likely experience some of the following emotions:

  • Shock
  • Disbelief
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Physical symptoms
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Anxiety

When my mother became a sudden widow at age 37 she went through shock/disbelief, sadness, anxiety, and depression.  The depression part lasted over 2 years.  Even though I was just 5 years old when it all started, I remember it all very clearly.

The week my Sophie (my cat) died I spent 4 days in my bedroom, and someone tried to tell me that it wasn’t good, but while this was meant to be a positive and comforting statement, it actually wasn’t (as per what I mentioned above).  If what you need is lock yourself in a bedroom for a few days, then that’s what you should do.

When grieving there is no point in FORCING yourself to do what you don’t feel like doing, especially the first week or so.  For over a week I went to bed before 8:00 PM, because that’s how I was dealing with my grief best, so that’s what I did. I didn’t task myself if it was good or bad. It’s neither. It’s just how I handled it best for ME.

Whatever your feelings are when you lose someone you love is one hundred percent fine. There is no right or wrong. Make sure you remember that.

Look for Comfort

Now, let me tell you that first. If you are looking for comfort in your grief – and you should – just make sure you do that with the right people, because if you don’t, rather than making things better, it will make them worse for you.

Only about an hour after Sophie had passed away, my good friend Adrienne called me.  Why did she call me? Because beside the fact that she’s such a good friend she TOTALLY knew what I was going through, because she knows that I loved my four- legged child just the same way she loves hers.

We are SO on the same page on that one, that there is no question what-so-ever that we would be a comfort for one another. We cried together and we talked about our lost furry children.  It was very comforting to me.  Especially for the loss of a pet, someone that doesn’t TRULY understand how much you’ve loved your pet may say the wrong thing, but I already knew that Adrienne was exactly the right person to talk to that day.

If you are the one trying to give comfort to someone grieving, do not ever tell them the way they should feel or the way you think they should feel.  Who are you to tell them that?  Be understanding, let them cry as much as they need to, and deal with it in the way they are comfortable with.

Few things that you can do are:

  • Tell them that you’re there for them whenever they need
  • Ask them how you could help them
  • Pray for them
  • Check on them sometimes

Grieving is not a comfortable spot, by any means, but at least if we are allowed to grieve  in peace being surrounded by people who understand better what one goes through it’s a plus.

Acknowledge your Grief

Trying to camouflage your grief won’t make things any better. On the contrary, in the long run it may lead to extreme anxiety and depression, even health problems and substance abuse.

Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel.  Every person is different and every loss is different. Don‘t let anyone tell you how you should feel, and don’t feel guilty about what you fell either.

Remember that telling someone how they should feel is actually an oxymoron, because what you feel is what you feel and saying that you shouldn’t will not change that.  Your grief is your own.

Grieving can be a bit of a roller coaster for a while. You will have some good days and some bad days.  As time goes on there will be more good days than bad days, but at first it will me more like the other way around. Don’t feel guilty about that.

At the beginning of your grief you may even feel some guilt every moment you feel happy or laugh, but don’t worry, you’re not crazy, it’s a normal part of grieving that well also get better with time.

Understand grief for oneself and for others is very important, because we all will go through some type of grief in our life time.  The video below has got some great tips about grief as well. Take a look

Please, leave your thoughts and comments below.

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13 Comments

  • Kumar GaurawTwitter: kgauraw says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Sorry about all that you had to go through this Summer. I can only imagine how tough it would have been for you.

    Loss of a loved one (human or animal) is loss of a relationship and it can be pretty painful. Everybody goes through this phase at some point in their life and this a is very painful experience.

    Different people deal with the grief differently and it also last differently for different people. To me, I come from a spiritually strong culture and I go to God. I get into ancient Vedas search for peace. And I find peace there. I read Bhagvad Gita (the holy book of Hindus) and find peace there. I go into an inner introspection journey, meaning of life and what not and somewhere it gives me the connection with God and thus the peace.

    Thank you for reminding us of the truths of life through this post. Appreciate you.

    Regards,
    Kumar
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Kumar,

      I agree with you. The more we are connected spiritually the more we are going to feel at peace when facing grief. I don’t not know how those who believe in nothing can even go through this at all.

      I am so glad that you are a spiritual being, which is more common where you’re from than it is on this side of the world, even though there are still plenty of spiritual people.

      Thank you for coming by and sharing your sources of strength.

      Have a great day!
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  • donna merrillTwitter: donna_tribe says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    The grieving process is one that we need to go through. As we loose our loved ones, in your case Sophie, we must go through the process. It is part of our human nature and needs to be acknowledged.
    Crying is something I struggle with. When I was grieving putting down Sheba, I couldn’t have a good cry. I guess it was because I needed to have strength to do what I had to do and put her out of her misery and pain. But a few days later, when my other dog was looking for her it all came out.
    You know how I am with my dogs, I talk to them like they are my kids, just like you have done with Sophie. When I kept telling my dog there is no more Sheba, that was when I broke down.
    It has been months, but I’m still going through the grieving process Sylviane. I have to allow myself to do so. There are days when I had a dream of her, woke up and found she isn’t there. Those days I need to back off of business and lay low.
    The process takes time.
    As you mentioned above, if we do not take the time to grieve, it will cause problems later on. I’ve seen people get physically sick who did not grieve because that energy went somewhere in their body.
    So, my friend, as you go along this journey of grief, please know I am here. You have my number and can call me if you need to.
    -Donna
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Thank you Donna, I know I have good friends like you and it means a lot to me.

      As a matter of fact I had sent you an email, but I know that my email have some issues with Gmail accounts and I think you’ve never received it.

      In that email I was telling you that I couldn’t cry and it made me feel so bad, however just a couple of days later when they brought me Sophie’s ashes I started to cry like crazy, and I cry every single day since. I know it’s going to be a while until I can spend a whole day without crying. Plus I cry for both my mom and Sophie at different times, so it’s a mess, but I have to go through this. I know it will get easier with time.

      Thank you for being here for me, Donna. I really appreciate you.
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  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    Hey Sylviane,

    I remember when my Dad died, I had some people say all of the wrong things when they thought they were comforting me. One of them said, “well you had him all these years”. I had another guy tell me, “well he’s been gone a year now, get over it”! How can people be so insensitive? If they meant well they did a darn bad job of it.

    Per our talk that day you know that my heart was just breaking for you. It’s not just that I have been through that before like you had but it was the loss of your precious child and I just knew how much you were hurting. You are right, we need people that will just let us be ourselves when we’re going through something like that. So many people think that we’re acting childish because we grieve so much for our animals but they either have never had any of their own, they didn’t look at them the same way or they don’t have a heart. I know, kind of harsh but that’s why we’re all different thank goodness.

    There isn’t a book on grieving so I think we all handle it the best way we can. I think other just need to approach us with compassion and understanding and let us grieve the way that’s best for us.

    This is a great subject matter Sylviane but I’m so sorry you’re having to draw on this from your own personal experience. It’s definitely a great lesson for us all though.

    Love you,

    ~Adrienne
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      I know what you mean, people are so darn stupid with their comments at times. A long time ago I read an article on what not to say to a parent who had lost a child still born. One on such things NOT to say was, “you can have another one”. Now thinking that some dudes would be that stupid to say that to someone who’s lose a baby, even still born, you can have another one, is crazy, but some people are that dumb, so they have to write articles telling, “no, don’t say that!”.

      Now that person who told you to yet over you’re father’s death already, has to be heartless on top of stupid. It’s like it’s almost a sin to be in pain over a loss. I don’t get that. It makes no sense at all.

      Thank for bringing your experience in this, Adrienne.
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  • GladysTwitter: coachgladys says:

    My dear Sylviane

    I could literally heart your heart and I can relate to what you are experiencing at this moment in your life.
    So sorry for your mom and Sophie.

    You wrote a great article regarding grieving. There is no right way or wrong way to mourn the loss of a love one.
    Like you I experienced the loss of my two dogs, my brothers and both my parents.
    I do know that whenever you need to cry, you should! You do not need permission from anyone to cry,grief and mourn.

    Take your time,even if’s a year or ten.
    My God fill your heart with peace,

    Your friend that cares
    Gladys
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Gladys,

      Well, I know that you’ve experienced plenty of grieving times in your life, and you’re right, we certainly don’t need permission to cry and mourn.

      We’re not trying to get people around us depressed, but if they do, they can keep their distance and let us grieve in peace. Every one wants to get better, but we can only take it one day at the time.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here, Gladys.
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  • Harleena SinghTwitter: harleenas says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    You’ve surely gone through a great deal and all of this is certainly not easy.

    I know when I lost my Mom, it was like my whole world had ended on me and there was no one with me, even though Dad and my sister were around. But it just doesn’t feel the same and no matter what words are spoken to comfort, the grieving process will take it’s own time and we shouldn’t even try to rush through that.

    It’s good you had Adrienne to call and talk to, and that does help, especially if the person on the other end understands your situation and sails in the same boat. Yes, I’ve always had pets right from the time I was born, and my dogs have always slept under my crib when I was a baby, so I know what it’s like to lose them one after the other. But my parents were quick to replace one with the other, so that we didn’t grieve too long when we were kids, and I did just the same with my kids, as we have had dogs ever since for them too. That helps as well.

    Thanks for sharing a part of yourself with us, and I know time heals – so we are all there for you anytime you need us. 🙂
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Harleena,

      Well, I know you understand all about losing a mother as you’ve lost your own, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

      In the case of Sophie, It would be way worse for me to replace her with another cat right not, like I would replace a piece of furniture. For me she was never just a pet. I simply can’t do that, and don’t want to do that right now at all.

      In time I may want to give my love to another pet child again, but not now.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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  • Ikechi says:

    So sorry about the pain you had to go through this summer. it’s human to grief over a loved one. It’s way better to express how you feel than suppress your emotions which can be detrimental to your health. I lost a friend that was so dear to me and I remember thinking to myself that death is so wicked.

    I am glad that Adrienne called you and I know that you will heal over time. I have never had a pet but I know what it means to lose someone precious.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Ikechi,

      No it’s certainly not a good thing to suppress one’s emotions, especially when it had to do with grief. Indeed Adrienne was a great support.

      Thank you for coming and for sharing your thoughts.
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  • jonsan says:

    Hi Sylviane,
    This is my first visit on your site and got impressed. 🙂
    What an informative and useful post indeed.
    Really there may be so many causes of grief. I appreciate your thoughts to express in a simple manner.
    Thanks for sharing……………
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