A reader asks: I recently lost a close friend, very unexpectedly. I’ve never experienced someone close to me dying. I really don’t know how I should feel. Right now I am in a hole of anger, but not at anything specific. I’m just really mad at everything all the time. Is this normal? How should I feel?
The Bonafide Broad answers:
I am so sorry you are going through this. Dealing with death can be incredibly frustrating, confusing, and stressful. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
You asked if your emotions and reactions normal? No…
…and yes. Because there is no normal when it comes to grief. Every person does it differently. What is therapeutic for one person can be excruciatingly painful to another. In fact, the field of psychology has attempted to create “models” to explain grief, but even those have proven to be inconsistent at best (Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief, anyone?). We are all too different, and death affects us all in very different ways.
After my husband passed away in a work accident, I remember having an unexpected morbid sense of humor in certain situations. I got some very strange looks from people. What most didn’t know was that my husband’s defense mechanism for dealing with tough situations was to look for the humor in them. In a strange way I felt more connected to him by using laughter to deal, and that helped me to get through some dark days there in the beginning.
Those kinds of things can be really difficult for people to understand, and some may even find them offensive. Although they shouldn’t, there are people who have certain “expectations” of how a grieving person should behave. Ignore these people. They are idiots.
Just so you know, it’s pretty natural to be pissed when a loved one passes away, especially if you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. Feeling anger in the midst of grief is more common than you might think. I really suggest you either go see a grief counselor, or you join a grief group. I can tell you from experience that grief counseling really helps to keep you focused on surviving the situation, not forgetting the person.
There is something you should be aware of: some people will say things that will just plain make you angry. Think about it: death is one of those things that humans find uncomfortable to talk about, so we avoid it like the plague. I believe this is a huge reason why people say the wrong thing.
Most people don’t know what to say because they weren’t taught, and they have never openly and comfortably discussed death. My mom had to ask a person to leave my home because they couldn’t understand that it wasn’t appropriate to describe in excruciating detail the state of my dead husband’s body in his casket! *face palm*
Now, that person had some issues with being socially awkward to begin with, and then found themselves in an even-more-awkward-than-normal circumstance. They didn’t do well. There’s always a reason people do things that seem wildly inappropriate, and remembering that can help you to keep the anger at bay.
So try to take what people say or do with a grain of salt. You will find that the only people who REALLY understand what you are going through are people who have been through it themselves, and everyone else is just trying to help, even if they get it a little wrong.
Lastly, TIME. I know. It’s, like, the most irritating thing to hear. But nothing helps you deal with loss more than time. The hurt never goes away, but it does start to sting a little less after a while. And then one day you will smile at something that hasn’t made you smile in a long time, and you’ll realize that you are going to survive this after all.
What do you think, readers? Please try to be understanding, CONSTRUCTIVE, and stay on topic in your comments if possible!
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DISCLAIMER: The advice given on this blog is informational only and should not be relied upon as legal or medical advice. It should not be considered professional or expert advice or counsel, but rather, it should be viewed merely as the humble opinion of the writer.
All advice given on this blog is only meant to provide a third party perspective while also protecting the privacy of the reader. It is always a good idea to seek the advice of an expert or professional before making important life decisions.