You know that feeling when you wake up in the morning and just for a second, life seems normal and then you remember he died. It hits you in the stomach like a punch from Mohammed Ali, and that’s just the start of your day.
Later in the morning, you wrestle with the phone company, try to get a delivery slot over the phone from the horrible woman who just won’t listen, worry about your children and how they are coping, lie to your brother that you are 'OK', ‘don’t worry about me’, and then, you realise you forgot the appointment at the Bank to discuss closing your joint account. At that point, you silently say to yourself, ‘I think I am going mad’.
Grief can feel like madness sometimes. It’s all too much, it goes on too long, it catches you out at the wrong times and it destabilises you.
The allure of going back to bed and pulling up the duvet for ever is pretty strong. The urge to lie on the sofa and never get up is increasingly enticing. The tears start falling and you think you will never be able to get yourself off the chair and be normal again and manage anything in a responsible way, or perhaps even find the impetus to do the smallest of jobs that need to be done.
What is certain at this point is that your future looks very uncertain and it’s frightening, depressing and overwhelming. I want you to know that feeling as if you are going mad is a very common experience in grief but I can assure you, you are NOT mad, you are grieving deeply and profoundly, and though it is difficult to tolerate, it is normal and natural to feel this way. You may be thinking nothing can make this any easier, but there is help and support out there for you.
It is very tempting to ‘beat yourself up’ at this point, and say in your head, ‘I shouldn’t be like this; I shouldn’t be lying in bed’.
What would it be like to give in to the urge to be where you are, to leave the crazy world to its own devices and rest physically and emotionally? To allow yourself the time and space to cry, to remember him for as long as you want, to embrace that feeling of madness? Just zoning out, as much as you want, because it is important to have that down time. Imagine you find your best friend in bed feeling really ill, would you force them up, no! I am pretty sure you would encourage them to rest.
What I can tell you is that grief is physically and emotionally exhausting and slowing down, re-couping and regrouping is essential to your ability to face the world again, later on. How does that sound to you?
Here are two things you can do to support yourself: Give yourself a break during the day, just as you would do for that friend I mentioned above, and remind yourself that nothing stays the same for ever. You will feel differently at some point in the future.
Lastly, it can really benefit you to find a friend, who can help you do that. In grief there are often just one or two people (sad but true) who can tolerate your ‘madness’ in grief, (I call them ‘stickers’, those people who stand by your side through your mourning). If there isn’t one, then go and find someone outside of your family or your circle who will listen to you. Counselling is one option where you can arrive in all your ‘madness’ and grief and find understanding, acceptance and solace.
If you would like support in your grief or loss, please see my counselling services
. It would be lovely to hear from you.
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