I’m sorry, I don’t have a solution. I’m not really sure I have any good advice either. Fat lot of good I am.
I hope by sharing how hard I found it, how badly I did at it and how long it took – someone else might not feel so alone. Might recognise sooner that there is another way. Might find the sun that little bit sooner.
In a nut shell then:
I didn’t deal with my emotions. From the very beginning I threw myself into ‘getting better’ without understanding from what. I also threw myself into everything, anything that meant I wouldn’t have to think. I wrote a lot of lists, at the top of every single one was “feel better”. Like the simple act of writing it and crossing it off would ‘cure me’. I ignored A’s pleas that I might need professional help. I ignored A a lot actually. I got frustrated and angry and bitter. I fake smiled A LOT. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. Only when A left. Only when I had two shows, a get-out, was in charge of a team of 24 and I couldn’t move from the bed; when I honestly didn’t know how I was physically going to do it all. Only when I hit my rock bottom, did a crack of self preservation shine out from my very dark mind and I picked up the phone.
This all took 3 years. They weren’t all doom and gloom years. I had a lot of good times. I had a lot of freaky ways coping!
So, to conclude, I guess (with a few little blog lists):
Bad Grief and Good Grief – feels rather accusing doesn’t it? There’s no blame attached to the title of ‘Bad Grief’. How can there be? When we are all just making it up as we go along. When we are not taught how to grieve.
It’s simply a phrase that may help you recognise, as I eventually had to, that some grieving habits may need to be changed:
If you will do anything, literally anything, to avoid what’s in your head. I ‘did’ work, box sets, and worrying about everyone else.
If you will do anything, literally anything, to avoid feeling.
If you are getting flash backs, like I did, for a prolonged period of time.
If you are feeling overwhelmed.
If you are treating grief like a race, there’s no finish line and no prizes.
If you are worried you’ve been grieving for too long and ‘need to get over it’. You lost someone, you’re not going to get over it, you’re going to get used to that space, eventually.
If you are comparing yourself to anyone else, me included. You don’t know what is happening behind closed doors.
If you are trying to prove to everyone, including you that you’re FINE. You don’t have to be fine.
Worrying about everyone else but yourself.
Good Grief habits, in my opinion:
Allowing yourself to feel, just what you are feeling. The fact you are feeling it, gives it legitimacy.
Recognising any guilt and Letting It Go. There is only you to forgive you now (I’m sorry about that), so let yourself off the hook.
Work at forgiving them too.
Knowing, really understanding, that there are good days and bad days and just because the bad days come back for a bit, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You can’t fail.
Being extremely Kind to yourself.
Talking about it, sharing it. When it’s fresh and new, when it’s years old. You may just help someone else.
What helped me:
I’m an advocate of talking to strangers. I’m an advocate of talking to friends too but in cases of grief, we need no judgement. We need not even the hint of judgement.
Someone trained to listen. To recognise certain signs. Someone who has no other agenda. Just to listen.
Confession time; I’m a navel gazer, I can analyse myself for hours. I am very self aware.
I still find it the most useful thing in the world, to talk to someone trained to listen, to analyse.
A lot of the time, just saying it out loud to an impartial human helps. They do not need to say anything other than “I think you are doing very well”.
I really, truly believe it helps me. Try it. It might help you.
Also, Exercise honestly helped. Who knew? Everyone? Oh OK…..
Massage. Really. Taking time to take care of yourself is a very loving act. We all need Love.
Remembering, when I felt good, to acknowledge that in a small way. To stop and feel lucky.
It may take longer than you can possibly imagine, or sooner than you thought decent. It may take talking to a stranger or the cat or your friends and family. It may take being all on your own but some time, one day you’ll learn to live with it. Then those days will outweigh the other days and it will seem ‘better’.