- There are many levels of ‘normal’ when experiencing grief. We all have a unique connection with the loved ones we lost.
- Feel your feelings and give them a chance to process them. There is a long road ahead.
What is normal?
When asked to define “normal,” I assume we are looking at a measure and the statistics that decide at which level we are normal. My next question is who decides and by whose measures. (I decline to do it.)
My experience of life has taught me that within our own frames of reference, there are many levels of normal. We are all unique individuals, and our ways of managing our physical and emotional selves will depend on numerous other aspects of our being. From our first breath to our present moment, every event, every experience, every lived moment is held within us and creates our own unique normal.
I have often thought about the statement, “Walk a mile in my shoes,” and wondered what the benefit of that would be, because even walking in someone else’s shoes can’t give us the experience of being them, as we are inhibited by our own experience.
Everything and anything that happens to us becomes part of our rich tapestry of life. It is that which we draw upon to help us in times of crisis. Our normal may not fit with everyone else, but for each of us, it is ours, unique to us. So, when I normalize the word grief, I say this: “Whatever it is that you are experiencing is probably within your normal functioning framework. However, if your grief is causing you inability to do the smallest of tasks, to become physically incapacitated, or to be unable to function at your normal level, perhaps then and only then we might look at what is normal for you.”
Having said all this, when someone we love leaves us through death, our world is changed completely. We are changed, and for a time, we may feel lost. This is the sort of loss that cannot be compensated for by the presence of others, because the one we love is no longer in life. We are then faced with a journey we have not prepared for, and we may feel at times that we are not in control and may question if this is normal. For example, we may have thoughts that we fear sharing or things we feel driven to do but can’t tell others about for fear of being labelled as crazy, unstable, or abnormal. What I am telling you is that all these experiences are usual. The important thing is not to compare our grief with the grief of others, but to share our unique thoughts and feelings and to recognize their similarities with others’, alongside recognizing that each of us is unique in our relationships with deceased loved ones.
Normal can only ever be our own normal, as only we know where our differences are. In abnormal times when we are not able to be ourselves, it is acceptable to be true to ourselves. We should be able to talk about the things we are experiencing without being put into the bracket of abnormal.
We will then begin our journey to a continued relationship with our deceased loved one, which is our everlasting bond through our memories, thoughts, and feelings about them in life.
Thank you to our contributors
Don’t hide your grief. Wear it, share it. AJ
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