Grief is not a simple, exact process. Ask anyone who has lost a spouse. When the love of your life is suddenly taken from you, you truly feel as if a part of yourself has been ripped apart. You wonder if you will ever feel normal or whole again. Grief is a misunderstood word. In “Gone with the Wind”, Scarlett O’Hara was expected to wear black during a specified period of mourning after the loss of her husband. Society dictated the grief process. There are still certain preconceived notions about grief, but here is what you really need to know if you have lost a spouse.
-Grief is not neatly packaged. One doesn’t lose a spouse, grieve, and move on. It isn’t that simple. Grief comes and goes. One day you may be unable to get up out of bed, and the next you feel like conquering the world. A week later you may be in bed again, your cheeks wet from the tears streaming down your face.
-Grief has no time limit. There is no statute of limitations on the amount of time in which you are allowed to grieve. The process is different for everyone, and that is perfectly fine. A person who grieves for their spouse for a year is no better or worse than a person who grieves three months or a person who grieves for five years.
-Feelings of guilt are normal. When you lose a spouse, all kinds of feelings decide to surface. You start to question yourself. Did I tell him I love him enough? I shouldn’t have done this or that. Maybe if I treated him nicer, he would still be with me. Some people feel guilty if they don’t believe they are sad enough. Feelings are feelings, and they are neither right nor wrong. Don’t beat yourself up for what you are feeling. If guilt shows up, it’s okay. Feel it and then let it go before it consumes you.
-Other people have no right to tell you how to grieve. They will try, and it will be hard to ignore them. The truth is…until they have walked in your shoes and felt all that you are feeling, they have no right to question your grieving process. The only exception to this would be if your grieving process is leading you to any kind of self-harm. In that instance, listen to people who are genuinely trying to help you.
-It is perfectly fine to move on. The day will come when you are feeling halfway normal again. You will wake up with a smile on your face in anticipation of the new day. You might get a new job. Perhaps you will start dating again. Perhaps down the road you will even get married again. There will always be naysayers trying to hold you back, telling you that you are not ready to move on. The truth is, you will know when you are ready. There will be old friends who question whether or not you are being respectful to the memory of your loved one. The truth is…your loved one would be happy to see you happy again. Listen to your heart.