In our society, there is an expectation of trying to keep it together – be stoic, have a stiff upper lip, try to be strong.
At Jim’s funeral, I was stoic. Adhering to what I call the unwritten rules of grief: please don’t make a scene, don’t make us uncomfortable, please keep the messiness private.
These rules are to help others feel more comfortable with YOUR grief. But grief IS messy.
It’s okay to be a griever.
When we experience any kind of traumatic loss it feels like we are in an alternate reality. Like we are in a place of in-between, pleading and praying this isn’t true, that when we wake up it will all be as it was before.
Our nervous system is hyper-aroused; we experience anxiety or panic attacks, we feel our hearts pounding, and a running loop of anxious thoughts can race round and round in our minds as we try to integrate what has happened.
The world feels scary and out of control. Everything has changed and it’s almost impossible to connect with a world that keeps continuing.
It’s okay to be messy in your grief.
It’s okay to cry, and let it out. Don’t feel like you have to hold it together for others. Do what you need to do for you.
This is an excerpt from Debbie Augenthaler’s award winning book, You Are Not Alone: A Heartfelt Guide for Grief, Healing, and Hope. Order your copy here.
Debbie Augenthaler, LMHC, NCC, is an author and psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, where she specializes in trauma, grief and loss. Her award-winning book, You Are Not Alone: A Heartfelt Guide for Grief, Healing, and Hope combines her personal story of devastating loss with practical insights and simple suggestions for healing. Join her Facebook community, Grief to Gratitude, and follow her on Instagram.