After funerals at funeral homes, the days of endless to-do’s and scurrying around from one thing to another to take care of funeral arrangements are over. Family members who may have come in for the funeral begin to leave to go back to their respective homes and lives. Friends and neighbors, who may have rallied around in almost 24/7 support, ease back into their own routines, and come around less often.
When you’re finally alone and the “must-do’s” are finished is frequently when the full intensity of grief hits. This intense grief in the days, weeks, and months after a loved one dies is normal. Grieving is a process, not an event.
The grieving process doesn’t have a preset start and end time. There are many emotions, memories, and thoughts about your new reality that need to be sorted through and settled. That takes time and the amount of time it takes is different for everyone.
However, at some point, the grieving process has a fork in the road with two roads that go in opposite directions of each other.
On one road, although grief itself never leaves after you’ve lost someone you love, the form of grief changes. There is less pervasive sadness and sorrow over your loved one’s death. These have been replaced by cherished memories and thankfulness for the time you had your loved one in your life.
You still miss your loved one. You always will. But you’re ready to take on life with the understanding they won’t be physically by your side the rest of the way. You will still have brief moments when something triggers temporary intense grief because that moment is a strong reminder of your loved one. But the intense grief passes by quickly.
However, on the other road at the fork in the road of grief, the intensity of grief remains. You can’t shake the pervasive thoughts and emotions of missing your loved one. You are symbolically paralyzed: you can’t back up and you can’t move forward.
On this road, losing your loved one seems to have destroyed your life and, in the path of that destruction, there doesn’t seem to be any way you will ever be able to recover and feel better.
Your circle through this thought and emotional pattern day in and day out. You don’t know why you can’t “just get over it.” You don’t know how everyone else can just go on with their lives like it never happened. You are miserable and you don’t know how to fix that.
This is the road of complicated grief. According to psychiatric researchers who specialize in understanding what grief is, complicated grief occurs in approximately 7% of bereaved people. While it is a rare type of grief, when it’s your road of grief, it can be agonizing.
It might seem that complicated grief would occur when you had a troubled or conflict-filled relationship with your deceased loved one. Troubled relationships and relationships that are contentious are rife with regrets, anger, resentments, and other negative emotions when one of the people in the relationship dies.
However, the reality is that complicated grief is most likely to occur when you lose someone with whom you had a very close, strong, and rewarding relationship. Breaking that bond – and accepting the break – can be particularly hard.
Grief counseling is highly recommended for people who are experiencing complicated grief.
If you need information about grief resources at funeral homes, our empathetic and knowledgeable staff at Hopler & Eschbach Funeral Home can assist you. You can stop by our funeral home at 483 Chenango St., Binghamton, NY 13901, or you can contact us today at (607) 722-4023.