There are some really basic things about grief that I wish I knew years ago! Knowing might have made grieving my parent’s and brother’s deaths a bit easier. Here’s a quick and succinct list of the things I learned along the way. If you finish this post and are frustrated because I didn’t include your most important thing, let me know in the comments. Let’s keep the list growing.
1. If you don’t cry after someone died, it doesn’t mean you don’t love them.
2. People will bring you food. And more food. Don’t feel you have to eat it all.
3. People will say things hoping they will make you feel better, like “God needed another angel.” Or “He’s better off now.” It’s ok to get angry at those words. Just know that they come from a place of care.
4. There are not 5 simple, consecutive stages of grief that you will pass through one to the next. Grief is really a bunched-up ball of chaotic emotions with no rhyme or reason.
5. People will tell you what you should or shouldn’t be feeling. It’s not that easy.
6. It’s ok to sit with the body for a bit to say goodbye. Don’t feel rushed.
7. Death and grief make people uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say or do. Expect awkward encounters.
8. Hiding death from children is not helpful. Don’t say, “Gramma’s asleep.” Or, “We lost Uncle Jonas.” Children are literal.
9. Anger is normal.
10. Guilt is normal.
11. People will tell you how you should grieve, or not grieve. They’ll tell you what you should or shouldn’t feel. Ignore them.
12. You lose everything; for a while. Your focus, your self, meaning and purpose, trust and security. Be patient with yourself
13. Your grief is not the same as my grief. I can’t honestly say, “I know how you feel,” because I really don’t.
14. People will ask how they can help you. You won’t know.
15. It’s ok to cry sometimes. It’s ok NOT to cry sometimes. And it’s ok to laugh, or scream, or stomp your feet!