When grieving we can often find ourselves anticipating and focusing on particular dates, e.g. anniversaries (good and bad) or birthdays. These dates can provide a sense of anticipatory anxiety as we may expect that those dates will be awful.
We often search for ways of coping and feeling supported in order to get through each day, and especially particularly memorable dates. The word ‘expectations’ often crops us; expecting to feel a certain way, expecting friends to say certain things, expecting better support, expecting some shift in feeling, expecting something, anything!
However, expectations can cause us more pressure and worry. People often tell us that they often start to feel better when they stop expecting things – dropping expectations can be less disappointing, and it can make you feel more grateful when people do reach out to support you.
Maybe this is something that all of us can attempt to do. We know it is not easy to just drop expectations, especially if we are feeling very much in need of more support, but if this helps even just 5% then it could be worth a try. Bereavement is such a difficult and unpredictable experience, but doing things that help us even marginally will help us on a day-to-day basis and probably more than we realise.
Sometimes it is the resistance to certain things that creates the suffering. Maybe a good plan for any day is not to expect anything, just to let the day come and go. Just let yourself continue without judgment over what you may be feeling, even if the feelings aren’t comfortable.
Dr Erin Hope Thompson