When I was newly grieving, I felt I was supposed to be further along because it had been a year since my husband had died. Not that people said this directly, but I know they thought it. This is not a criticism. If you’ve never suffered a devastating loss you can’t know how it feels—even though everyone will at some point in their lives. I felt like I was failing an unwritten rulebook of grief: wow, it’s been a year already and you’re still so steeped in it?
I was exhausted from trying to hold back my feelings so as not to make others uncomfortable. I was lucky to have the support of close loved ones and my therapist, but even so, I felt self-conscious and thought I was never going to feel okay again. Many of my clients have felt this way, and you might be feeling it, too. You will feel better, but you need to take the time you need. It’s okay to not be okay. And if you’re feeling much better, that’s okay, too. There is no rulebook! Remember, grief is not linear, and there is no timetable.
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.