Feeling awful when you are grieving is perfectly normal. Since every relationship is unique, how a person grieves is unique to that relationship. If feeling awful is your thing, then you are right on track. Other normal reactions can include everything from feeling numb to wanting to eat everything in sight to not wanting to eat at all. I remember when my best friend died I felt like I was in a fog for days. I sat at work (I am still not sure how I got there) and just stared at the computer. I couldn’t sleep without thinking about her. I couldn’t hear a song on the radio without crying. Even worse because she died by suicide, most people avoided me or wouldn’t talk to me at all. This made me put up walls and isolate myself even more. Eventually I just plastered on my “happy face” and told everyone I was “fine”.
Now that I am a Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist®, I realize my feelings were no different than what most grievers experience. Historically society has told us how we should or shouldn’t be feeling after any loss. It got passed down from generation to generation. As a result, well-meaning friends and relatives say things like “They are in a better place” or “Eat some more ice cream and you’ll feel better” after a death of someone close to you. Maybe some of you have even heard after the break-up of a relationship “We never liked them anyway” or “It’s ok, it just wasn’t meant to be.” The problem is we are taught to intellectualize grief when really it is really a matter of the heart. Since most people aren’t given the necessary “heart tools” – especially when it comes to loss – they do the best they can by giving us feedback they think our heads will understand.
In addition to our hearts needing tender-loving-care while we are grieving, so do our bodies. A body needs energy to be healthy. Grief is an energy-depleting emotion. If you aren’t replacing and/or balancing its energy you feel awful. For example, after the death of my former finance, my heart physically ached inside my body. It felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. It felt like I was having a heart attack. Maybe in some way – figuratively not literally – I was. My stomach felt like I had swallowed a block of concrete. I had zip, nada, no energy. Since we have been conditioned not to express our feelings, we bottle them all up inside. We walk around like robots. We hold back the tears. We hide from friends and family. Eventually our bodies can’t take it anymore. We explode inside like metal in a microwave. As a result, it’s not unusual to get sick by not dealing with grief. This outcome is so much worse than just feeling what you were feeling from the beginning.
REPLENISHING YOUR ENERGY
One suggestion for preventing your grief manifesting in a physical way is to find practices that help you replenish and balance the energy in your body – Reiki, Yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong. After the deaths of my friends, I found that Reiki really helped me. It kept me more peaceful and relaxed. Much better for my well-being than eating gallons of ice cream or exploding in a meeting. The bottom line is to understand and express what you are feeling both emotionally and physically. It is normal and natural and most importantly – it is just right for you. Be sad. Be numb. Be tired. Communicate how you feel – even if you do feel awful. You heart and your body will thank you.
Grief is one instance where “feeling awful” is actually a good thing.
Sending you love, comfort and peace!