You may have heard us say this many times already, but we can’t emphasise it enough – grief is an individual experience. No two people will experience it in the same way, even within the same family. However, there are sometimes themes that come up within grief that people experiencing grief in different ways can identify with. A common theme is the unpredictability of bereavement.
If we knew what to expect when grieving, for example, the days we would feel better and the days we would feel worse, then we could plan ahead. But as many of you will know – this is not possible. Grief can come in waves, and take us by surprise hour by hour.
People sometimes predict they will feel a certain way on a particular date, for example, the birthday of a loved one who is no longer here, or an anniversary of sorts. However, it may be that the predicted feelings do not arise on the day itself. Anticipatory anxiety can often be worse than the event we are anxious about. Conversely, people may experience strong emotions coming over them unexpectedly, without any obvious triggers, and this can understandably be confusing and difficult to manage. This is very normal in grief.
Dealing with unpredictable emotions can make it hard to plan our days ahead and time with others, especially if we fear we may not be in a good place. We might even predict that people around us have expectations about how we ‘should’ be feeling or about what we ‘should’ be doing with our time. This can feel like an added pressure and like another thing to manage, and may put us off engaging with people or activities in general. However, being alone in grief can make life lonely and the experience of grief so much harder.
It may be that despite life and emotions being unpredictable, making some plans to be around others could be helpful. This can take many forms; it could be seeing a friend for a coffee, or just sitting in a coffee shop around others whilst reading the paper, or going along to one of our bereavement support groups. Sharing your emotional journey through bereavement with others who are on their own journeys can help you to cope on those days when your feelings are unexpected or more difficult to manage. Everyone needs an outlet.
Whether you come along to one of our support groups to talk, to listen, to cry, or something else – your presence is valuable to everyone else who attends as it reminds them they do not have to go through this alone. And you deserve to know you’re not alone in this too.