We often have diverse attendees at our support events; younger and older members, people who have lost partners and parents, people who had been newly bereaved, and people who had been bereaved for a while longer (although still recently in the scheme of things!)
Diversity can often be a theme of discussion at our events, and we often manage to cover and discuss a wide range of topics.
The variety of topics we discuss are representative of the human mind when grieving – we have so many questions we want to be answered and we can fluctuate between feeling sad about memories from the past, to feeling anxious about how we are coping now, to worrying about what life may be like in the future. We may find that our minds can feel like they are jumping through lots of different questions, memories, worries and thoughts.
That is essentially what it is like to be bereaved; your brain and your heart is trying to process your loss as well as all the other worries and thoughts it arises within you.
This often makes people question how long grieving takes. If only there was a fixed answer for this! If there was we would be able to countdown how many difficult days we had left. Unfortunately this is not the case – there is no standard time people are expected to grieve. All we can advise is that you take it one day at a time rather than looking at the whole picture of what may lie ahead. Just getting through the day when you are grieving is an achievement.
As well as not being able to answer how long grieving takes (what would that even mean?), there is also the issue of the unpredictability of grief. We may find that we have been coping reasonably well and it can feel like we have “gone backwards” if we suddenly feel worse again. It is so common for people to use terminology that essentially blames the self; “Why aren’t I doing better?” “I thought I would be coping better by now.” “Why do I have such trouble concentrating, what is wrong with me?”
Do not forget that you are going through one of the most difficult experiences of your life. We don’t remind you of this to make you sad, but to put things into perspective – if you are finding life difficult, there is a very good reason why. Being critical towards yourself for not “doing better” will not make the experience any easier. If possible, be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can. That is all you can do.
One day at a time.