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Grief is Not a Straight Line

Grief is not a straight line.

It is not a neat path of stepping stones, where you move smoothly from one stage to the next, and then you are done. 

I know this, because I am grieving right now. I lost someone dear recently, and in the wake of their passing, I have been experiencing a disorienting ride of feelings and emotions.

The closest way of describing my grief is this: it is like the teacup ride at Disneyland.

One day I am over here feeling sad, and the next I am over there feeling at peace. The next whirl takes me over into regret, and then back to sad again, just spinning and spinning in place. And then I am off again, back to being at peace, and then sad, mad, regretful… It hasn’t stopped yet, but it has become easier bear. The feelings are not so sharp, and the unpredictability less bewildering.

And this is normal.

We experience grief as a reaction to loss, major life changes, trauma and other tragedies. It is a process that affects the whole of our being, with physical and psychological effects. Each person experiences grief differently, each needing their own time to move through the feelings and emotions.

In time, we move past grief, but it takes just that: time.

Signs of Grieving

Physical Signs
  • Changes in appetite, including overeating or not being hungry at all
  • Changes in sleep patterns, including oversleeping, insomnia, having trouble falling asleep or awakening, having disturbing or vivid dreams, sweating or chills during sleep
  • Exacerbation of existing physical problems, such as migraines, digestive troubles, allergies, and high blood pressure
  • Other symptoms such as dry mouth, noise sensitivity, tightness in the throat or chest, shakiness or a feeling of weakness in the muscles
Psychological Signs
  • Experiencing a range of feelings, including sadness, anger, guilt, regret, peace, relief, fatigue, abandonment and despair, in no particular order
  • Changes in energy and activity levels, from inactive and passive, to hyperactive and aggressive
  • Withdrawing socially, self-isolation
  • Trouble concentrating, unable to focus
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Engaging in self-destructive behaviors to numb or escape grief, such as alcohol or drug abuse, risky sexual behavior, reckless driving,

If you are grieving, and feel overwhelmed by your pain and loss, reach out to the BFDC. We can help.