Grief comes like a tidal wave when we lose a loved one, but what I never considered was how long the flooding lasts afterward. The grief I felt touched every part of my life, and changed a lot about how I interacted with others. I suddenly found myself unable to share in the joy of my family and friends. I felt frozen in time while everyone else was moving on with their lives. And worst of all, people didn’t know what to say to me anymore.
Walking on Eggshells
For a long time, I felt like my family was awkward around me. It’s like they didn’t know what to say. Deep down, I knew they just wanted to be sensitive and considerate, but oftentimes that came off as avoiding the subject I needed to talk about the most—my recent loss. Death is hard to talk about for most people and can be a taboo subject for some, but that doesn’t make it go away. The best conversations I had during my grieving period—the ones that truly helped me—didn’t dance around the elephant in the room, they acknowledged it. When others felt like they had to walk on eggshells, I felt the same way, and I couldn’t help being awkward and detached.
Looking back at that time of truly overwhelming grief, I see now that I was locked in my own little grief-stricken world and I was very unaware of what was going on around me. I felt separate from everything else, and I perceived the conversations and actions of others as if through a fog. My grief weighed on me like dementia—I was forgetful and slow to process and my brain was somewhere else half the time.
Even Little Things Overwhelmed Me
Immediately after losing my loved one, I felt overwhelmed with all the tasks and responsibilities that suddenly rushed into my life. All I wanted to do was huddle up quietly and sleep, but there was a lot to accomplish, and a lot of people expecting things of me. I was unspeakably grateful for the pre-planning we had done together before my loved one passed, because it made things easier to swallow. But even with pre-planning of the funeral and burial, there were bills to take care of, belongings to consider, and family flying in from all over the country. I could barely fathom getting up in the morning or doing the dishes—how could I be expected to handle all of this? It was awkward for me to admit to others that I needed help, and I know my family and friends felt awkward stepping in and giving me a hand.
I want to be social and laugh easily like I once did. I want a whole evening to pass without anyone biting their tongue, holding in words they’re not sure they can say around me. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t notice the damage done by the flood of grief I’ve experienced, but little by little, I believe I can be me again.