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Afraid to show grief to family, friends, colleagues


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I sort of understand being in a position to NOT call because you feel vulnerable, and you don't want to impose on friends.  

Mine work so hard at trying to cheer me up.  I hate to disappoint them.  Thing is, if I do get cheery it only last while the friend is present. 

Truth is, it really isn't their responsibility to cheer me up - but they try anyway.

Seems easier to just avoid the whole thing.

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I am so sorry for your loss and that you have cause to be here for this reason.  It's the hardest thing I've been through in my life, it's been quite a journey...at first shock/anxiety/grief fog/frantic, but eventually learning to coexist with my grief.  I've learned it's okay to not be okay, and I hope your work allows for occasional breakdowns because they can happen without warning.  This is about YOU and what YOU are going through so I hope you don't feel the need to put on a brave face all the time whether around family/friends or what.  They may not "get it" if they haven't been through it, and sometimes even if they have because our relationships are all unique.  I know of some who were glad when their husband died because they were abusive & mean but for myself my husband was sweet, my soul mate and best friend and I miss him each and every day of my life in the nearly 16 years since he passed.  
Welcome here and I hope you find comfort here.  It sounds like you might need to find a counselor that's a better fit for you, perhaps more authentic.  My first one wasn't good either. ;)

I want to share an article I wrote of the things I've found helpful over the years, in the hopes something will be of help to you either now or on down the road.


There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.

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Diane R. E.

Hello PSG; I am so very sorry for your loss. Yes, you can certainly be real on this forum. This is the place where you can express anything you are feeling - we get it. Sending virtual hugs!

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18 hours ago, PSG said:

Just looking for a place where I can be real and where others will be real, too.

Hi PSG. Just to echo the sentiments of widower2, you really have come to the right place! My heartfelt sympathies go out to you on the loss of your husband. I lost my beautiful woman last November and my world will never be the same. She was only 54. You're amongst friends here, but more importantly you're amongst friends who understand what you're going through. Friends who won't ever judge you. And friends to whom you can vent your innermost thoughts and feelings without hesitation. Because we're all here to support one another through the worst of times. And that's exactly what we do. (((Hugs))) James.

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Thanks to all of you who have responded with comments, sharing similar feelings, and with support. I am quite grateful.  PSG.

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