Losing someone we love is never easy, but losing a spouse or partner can be especially difficult. It’s like being caught in a stormy sea, with waves crashing over us and threatening to pull us under. But as Vicki Harrison once said: “Grief is like the ocean – it ebbs and flows, sometimes calm and sometimes overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
Grief is a complex and personal journey, unique to each individual. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, no set timeline or expiration date. Some people find that their grief lessens over time, while others learn to live with it and make space for it in their lives. But no matter how we approach it, the process of grieving is rarely straightforward. We may feel a range of emotions, from sadness and anger to confusion and even guilt. Some days we may feel like we’re making progress, while others we may feel like we’re drowning. But through it all, we learn to keep swimming, to keep moving forward, and to honor the memory of the person we’ve lost.
Survivor’s grief is a phenomenon that can really throw a wrench in the grieving process. It’s like we get stuck in our grief, unable to move through the stages and feeling like we need to hold onto the pain because we’re the ones left behind. It’s especially tough when our loved one died young or in a way that feels unjust. We might even feel angry or in disbelief about the whole thing. And to make matters worse, survivor’s grief can show up in physical ways too – like weight loss, sleep disturbances, headaches, and stomach issues. It’s a tough road to navigate, but it’s important to remember that healing is possible.
Grief may differ for men
Grief for men can be especially tricky given the public messages men receive. Boys and men are told to “man up,” hide their feelings so as not to embarrass themselves and those around them and act as though nothing has changed. Men and women, boys and girls all experience the same emotions, they are just socialized to express them differently. While women are taught to grieve publicly, even to rely on a support system to aid them in their grief, men are taught to grieve silently and internally. A national survey by the University of Kentucky asked men about how they grieved the loss of their fathers. They found that the men primarily chose to grieve their fathers through actions-by participating in their father’s hobbies, or physically expressing anger. Anger is a common reaction to loss but it becomes problematic when it is expressed instead of sadness rather than in tandem with sadness.
So how do we support the men in our lives who are grieving or how do we grieve as men? First of all it is important to remember that everyone grieves at some point, it is an inevitable part of being a human being. Doing so in a healthy and productive manner can facilitate greater emotional resilience as well and further our connection to others. There are a few simple things we can do:
Free ourselves from expectations
Break free from expectations and allow ourselves to grieve in our own way. There’s no right or wrong way to navigate the murky waters of grief. It’s a universal experience that touches us all, but it’s also deeply personal. We owe it to ourselves to give grief the space it needs to be felt and processed.
It’s important to remember that grief doesn’t come with a manual or a timeline. We can’t rush it or ignore it. If we try to push it down or pretend it’s not there, it will only come back stronger and more destructive.
Instead, let’s be intentional about honoring our loved ones. We can do this in many ways, from writing them a letter to carrying a special memento with us. By taking the time to acknowledge our connection to them, we can begin to make sense of the loss and find some peace in the midst of the pain.
Be intentional about honoring our loved one
Let’s make sure we honor our loved ones in the best way possible. When we lose someone close to us, it can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that they’re no longer with us. We miss their presence, their laughter, and the memories we shared. But it’s important to take the time to remember them and cherish the moments we had together. Whether it’s writing a heartfelt letter, having a conversation with them in our minds, or carrying a special keepsake, we can honor their memory and keep them close to our hearts.
Take small steps
Remember, grieving is a process and it’s important to take small steps. We can’t rush through it or distract ourselves with other things. Instead, we should make space for the things we enjoy and give ourselves time to rest and process our emotions. It’s okay to take it one day at a time and celebrate the small victories along the way. By doing so, we can ease ourselves back into our routines and find comfort in the memories we shared with our loved ones.
When we’re going through a tough time, it’s easy to feel like we’re the only ones in the world who are feeling that way. We might even feel like our sadness is a burden to others, or that they just don’t get it. But here’s the thing: support is absolutely crucial when we’re grieving. Having people around us who understand what we’re going through can make all the difference in the world. It can help us feel less alone, and it can even help us avoid sinking deeper into sadness. So don’t be afraid to reach out to those who care about you. You might be surprised at how much they want to help.