Is my grief weird?
It's not enough to lose someone - or something - important to your life and close to your heart. Sometimes people add to their pain by wondering if they're "doing grief right" or even if they have a right to grieve.
First of all, there is no "right way" to do grief. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified stages of grieving she observed in dying patients (denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance) but never intended them to be used as structured, sequential stages. The truth is that in a single day (or even hour) we can swing widly from acceptance to anger to denial.. and back again.
The shape of our grieving is directly affected by the circumstances of our loss. When a loved one dies after a long and painful illness the bulk of the grieving may have been done by the time death comes. We may feel mostly relief and a desire to move forward. That doesn't mean that we didn't love that person. It only means that we've been grieving for a long time.
Losing a loved one suddenly brings with it an entirely different experience of grief. Losing a loved one suddenly due to a car accident will be different from losing someone due to a murder.
Your relationship with your loved one will affect the shape and process of your grieving. Sometimes people are surprised to find themselves deeply sad at the death of an abusive parent. For many people, no matter how bad the parent there remains within them a child's hope that one day they'll get to have the parent they should have had all along. Death means that this desire will never have a hope of being fulfilled.
You may feel guilty because you're more devastated over the death of your cat than your Uncle Frank. The truth is, however, that your cat was an integral part of your every day life while you only saw Unvcle Frank every couple of years.
Speaking of pets, the loss of a pet may be devastating. For many of us, they are a part of our families and their loss hits us just as hard as any family member.
Grief comes in many flavors. You may find yourself grieving the dreams you had for you marriage when you get a divorce. You may grieve the loss of friendships, of a place or a job.
Whatever the loss, grief simply highlights the heart connection that we had with that person, pet or thing. It doesn't matter if your grief makes sense to anyone else. All that matters is that it's yours.
If you find yorself having difficulty with your own grief, feel free to contact me.