It’s Not About Being a Perfect Griever
After being in the bereavement field for more than two years, I don’t know how many times I have heard, “Am I doing this right?”, “Am I grieving the right way?” or “How do I compare to others?” There is no right or wrong answer to these questions, for we all grieve in our own way and in our own time. These questions take me back to an article written by Bob Baugher, Ph.D, titled “What If I Grieved Perfectly?” In this article, he explains how, in general life, we strive for perfection on how to handle issues and how we deal with our grief.
I know that in my own life, I need things to be in order and I strive for the best in all I do. I feel as if my life is falling apart when things are not this way. Call me crazy if you want, but even the clothes in my closet have a specific order; not only are they separated by season, but also by color, in order of the rainbow. So, I can relate to these questions people ask from my own personal grief experiences. After some of my personal losses, I thought something was wrong because I was not going through all the “stages of grief” or acting like some of the other family members. But again, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. I thought that perhaps I was not “doing it right” and wondered when I was going to heal and get back to the “new normal.”
In his article, Baugher writes that if we grieve perfectly, we would miss our loved one for only a little while. With my losses, I know that this is not true. Is there ever a time we stop missing our loved one? Absolutely not! One of my losses happened more than five years ago. There are still a lot of times I think about my loved one and even get emotional.
Another example that Baugher uses is that if we grieved perfectly, we would look forward to the holidays. Again, in my own experience, this was not the case. I dreaded the Christmas after my grandmother passed, because I knew how much she loved Christmas. I did not want to decorate nor participate in normal Christmas activities because Grandma was not there to see them. So again, I think most of us dread those holidays.
In talking with those who grieve, I always encourage people to do what they need to do for their own healing. For instance, some people feel the need to go to the graveside several times a week or every day, whereas others only go back on certain special days or holidays. Is one person’s grieving better than the other? No! Those people are grieving in their own way.
It is important to allow yourself to grieve, to move toward healing, and in that journey, to take care of yourself. Healing is not forgetting your loved one, it is mending your broken heart. So, listen to what others say or suggest on how you need to grieve, but define your own grief and its terms for yourself. Embrace your grief, and do what you feel is right for you. Remember that there is no right or wrong way through grief. It only matters that you keep moving through the process to discover the new normal and, perhaps, the “new” you.
~ Sarah Tweed, Bereavement Coordinator (Yadkinville, NC)
This article originally appeared in the October issue of The Next Step.
Tags: Grief Support