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Grieving: When Does Grief Show Up?

grieving

Grieving: When Grief Shows Up?

Life can be overwhelming. If you are alive and breathing, you've experienced grief in some form or fashion. 

Typically, grief is most commonly thought of when someone passes away. But it's actually more complex and can show up under any number of circumstances. Here are a few examples of how or when grief shows up in our lives.

  • Abortion / Miscarriage
  • Death of a spouse, child, parent, friend, or loved one
  • Diagnosed with a disease, chronic illness, or health issue
  • Financial loss
  • Global events (politics, pandemics)
  • Imprisonment
  • Loss of a pet
  • Loss of business, job, promotion, or career change
  • Loss of friendship
  • Loss of home or property (foreclosure, natural disaster)
  • Racial and social injustice
  • Romantic breakup
  • Separation or divorce
  • Significant life changes (graduation, retirement)
  • Suicide

 

Have you gone through any of these? Sometimes it's a sudden loss. It's out of the blue and stops you completely in your tracks. It can also be something that's anticipated or expected. Either way, these losses can cause shock and trauma.

Here's the thing. We weren't taught how to grieve. We emulate it from what we've seen others do in our life. And that leaves us with more questions than answers. So we turn to Google and type in how to cope, the stages of grief, the steps to get through it. Or instead, maybe you numb out and distract yourself. You do anything, so you don't have to feel. That's how I became a workaholic. After a relationship ended with the man I thought I was going to marry, I avoided my inner turmoil, and work became my coping mechanism.

Grief is very powerful. If left to its own devices, it can cause some major damage to our inner and outer world. We set aside our emotions, thinking we'll deal with them later. But "later" never comes, and it ends up wreaking havoc on us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Grieving a loved one who passed away. The life you thought you would live. The career you left behind. The healthy body you once had. It takes a toll.

When you see someone take their last breath on this earth, it changes you on the inside. As a live-in caretaker to two of my grandparents, you could see the decline month by month and day after day. Going from a walker to wheelchair to 100% bedridden. Eating solid foods to only liquids to nothing. Going to the bathroom to using a bedside commode. From talking, interacting with others to sleeping all day. You knew what was coming, but nothing prepares you for it.

Have you ever gone through a loss that was so heart-wrenching you whispered, "I don't know if I can do this" or "I'm not sure how to handle this?"

It brings a heaviness. Some call it depression. Some call it anxiety. But is it? No matter how hard you try, you can't escape it. You're hurting so deeply that you don't know what to do. You feel that you can't talk to anyone about it. No one will understand. You don't know how to put into words what you're feeling most of the time.

What can we do? My mind says, keep moving. Suck it up, buttercup. Get a grip. You don't have a choice. You have to put one foot in front of the other because other people are counting on you. You don't have time to fall apart. So we lock our feelings in a box, throw away the key, and keep going.

But it's exhausting being strong all the time. You're putting on the fake smiles and saying you're fine so other people don't feel awkward or uncomfortable. But on the inside, you are far from fine.

Over time, we might find ourselves getting angry, negative, sad, depressed – maybe all of the above in the span of an hour. Out of nowhere, we burst into tears in the grocery store parking lot even though we thought we were "better" or "over it."

We get triggered by the smallest things. Someone gives us a dirty look, cuts us off in traffic, had a certain tone, or talked about us behind our back. Triggered. We are stress eating. Not sleeping. Anxiety, depression, headaches, stomach issues, and the list goes on.

You think: My God, am I going crazy?

 And you hear a faint whisper: No, you're carrying a weight you were never meant to carry. But I'm here when you're ready.

That inner stuff we haven't dealt with boils to the surface. Dealing with it later, stuffing it down, googling articles, crying in the shower… it's not helping. So how do we handle this? 

First and foremost, grief is a personal and private journey. No one grieves the same way. There is no magic timetable. All of your emotions are normal, even the negative ones.

Grief is universal, yet unique to each individual.

Wherever you are in your journey with grief and loss, you are not alone. No matter the circumstances, God is with you. I am with you.

Through the losses in my career, health, finances, relationships, and loved ones, friends, and coworkers passing away - I've learned that grief is a process. There are many complexities and layers. I'm still dealing with it, but the goal is to share with you some stories and step-by-step tools I've learned along the way through personal experience and as a certified grief coach.

The purpose of this website is to focus on the real and raw aspects of grief. We'll explore the questions we all think but never say out loud.

  • How can I make space to grieve when I have too much to do?
  • Am I less spiritual or less of a Christian because I feel angry?
  • How do I grieve when I need to be strong for others?
  • Why do I get so annoyed when people mean well but offer the stereotypical cliches like, "sorry for your loss"?
  • How do I share my grief when I don't want to be perceived as a negative person?
  • Does grief have an expiration date?
  • Where is God? Why did He allow this to happen?
  • How do I connect with others when I'm going through so much? Is it okay to be alone?
  • And how do I create boundaries and ask for what I need during this process?

 Here's the deal. I don't want you to cope. Let's go beyond that place of just barely surviving and hanging on. For me, that means less Google and more Jesus. I'll be honest; I'm guilty of going to Google first for information. We have access to so much information at our fingertips, yet so many of us are stuck in pain.

A side-question to ponder. s the information and technology age really helping or hurting?

Back to my point…we need to get beyond the stereotypical advice. Let's face it. Grief is an uncomfortable topic for most people. Do you ever notice the social awkwardness and fake smiles? It doesn't matter if you are grieving or wanting to support someone who is grieving; there is this I-don't-know-what-to-do-or-say vibe from all sides. It’s important to shine a light on those moments and provide some practical tips on how to handle those situations when they pop up. If you want to explore a specific question or topic, reach out to me here. (ADD IN ASK ALISON FORM)

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