I will admit that grief has no rules.
And it doesn’t.
Years ago, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross came up with guidelines for loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, in that order.
What many people fail to remember is that this was a study initially done with those who were dying and then with those experiencing the loss of the person who died. And, to make matters more complicated, EKR herself later regretted even making this list of expectations, admitting that loss and grief indeed does NOT follow a linear and predictable progression.
Yet, to this day, her initial work is mistakenly held up to be the gold standard for grief and anyone who does not follow it is considered to be impaired in some way.
In fact, a few years ago, the psychiatric community coined the phrase “complicated grief” for anyone grieving longer than 6 months and suggested these people needed psychiatric intervention.
Really? How quaint and tidy. Obviously, not the statement of anyone who has been there.
Anyone who is in the throes of mourning, especially mourning the loss of a soul mate, can readily tell you that they experience any and all of those emotions on any given day in no particular order – heck, in any given hour, sometimes.
And to say that all is said and done in six months is pure folly.
My John has been gone 5 ½ years and while I admit I am in better shape today than I was way back then, there are still days that the hurt returns in full blast and I cry, and wish it weren’t so, and I become upset that this has happened to us.
Is there something wrong with me? I don’t think so. Not at all.
I am functioning as well as I ever did.
I take care of our home, our pets, my finances, my health.
I run a business; I keep up with family and friends; I am writing a book.
I dare anyone to say that my grief is “complicated” to the extent that I need medication and treatment.
Yet, my grief evolved in its own way and I let it and I didn’t condemn myself – or allow anyone else to – when it went on for more than the amount of time that others felt the need to impose on me.
When I didn’t want to celebrate holidays, I didn’t. When I wanted to stay home instead of going out to dinner, I did.
When I felt the need to cry and scream, I did.
And you should too.
Losing someone hurts like the dickens.
Losing your soul mate makes you feel like your heart has been ripped out and to some extent, it has.
Honor those feelings and don’t complicate your grief by putting unrealistic – and false - expectations on it.
This is your grief and your right as the griever.