A frequent question on many grief websites could be “Is my grief normal”. There are several factors which may make this determination. Some of the characteristics noted would be the relationship to oneself (child, spouse, parent, sibling, pet, etc.) as well as the length of time since their passing. Also, an important consideration is the cause of your loved one’s death.
The loss of a child is by far the most challenging type of bereavement, regardless of the age of the child. Just the fact that it is out of the so-called natural order of life makes it more difficult. Additionally, if the death was a result of a sudden or violent cause, it can be more burdensome.
Here is an article written by a mother who suddenly lost her 12 year old daughter. If you are feeling incapacitated, perhaps her ideas on resilience may prove helpful. https://www.houseofwellness.com.au/wellbeing/mental-wellness/dr-lucy-hone-3-resilience-strategies
How can I help my grief be more normal?
The strategies within these quotes may help your grief to soften.
“There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.”Henry Wordsworth
If we can verbalize or journal our sadness, it can become a very healing experience. Just as I was writing this Henry Wordsworth quote, a mourning dove cooed. I felt that was our son speaking to me via this particular type of bird, since he loved mourning doves! Sometimes noticing signs can make our relationship with our loved ones feel as if we are still “speaking” to one another! See OUR VISITOR or My Mother’s Day Guest. Additionally, it feels the timing of the mourning dove coo was confirmation that we must allow our grief out by speaking, whether by voice or pen.
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”Mitch Albom “Tuesdays with Morrie”
As mentioned above, we can still speak with our loved ones, it is just our relationship is different. We still have a connection via our heart strings.
“I will not say: Do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Return of the King”
Allowing oneself to cry is an expression and an outlet for our grief. Speaking of expression, the arts (visual, musical, literary, etc.) are also a healthy way to communicate one’s feelings. See ARTS A Bridge To Life.
“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.”Mahatma Gandhi
Needless to say, holding our loved one in our hearts is a given! We must find ways to treasure them in our hearts. Some possibilities may be to speak of what you remember, to memorialize them in photos, or to make charitable contributions in their memory. You may have many more ideas fitting to you and your loved ones’ experiences.
“The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give.”Francis Weller
Through a serendipitous event, I found a gratitude practice during one of the most difficult periods in my life – while our son was in hospice. Thankfulness is an effective strategy for any times of trial in our lives, especially while grieving. See Why Gratitude?.
More than likely, you will find that what is normal grieving for you may not be considered normal grieving for another. May you find peace and comfort in normalizing your grieving journey. If you’ve found this helpful, please consider following my blog!