Grief looks and feels different for everyone and everyone grieves in their own way and different for each loss.
When my uncle died suddenly last year it was a total shock to everyone except him. We could tell that he was unsurprised not to wake up that sunny July morning because of the way he had left his affairs. But for the whole family of which he was the head, in spite of never having married or had children himself, it was utterly unexpected.
We have all handled the grief in different ways. While the loss has been deep for all of us for some there has been more laughter than tears. My siblings and I have become closer while dealing with probate and all the administration; but there have been totally unexpected feelings and symptoms too.
There has been a lot of anger which has seemed to come from nowhere and have no focus, so unexpected quarrels have sprung up in what has always been the most placid and affectionate of families. For some it has been easier to retreat into work to avoid dealing with things. There have been embarrassing lapses of memory (how did that happen?) and I'll be honest enough to say that I have drunk a lot more alcohol this year than ever before (unconnected to the memory lapses, I promise!).
Talking to a friend who had experienced a similar loss we found that physical and mental exhaustion had hit us both at unexpected times, meaning that our businesses had suffered; yet another symptom of grief.
When a close friend died in a diving accident, many years ago now, I felt nothing for months and then experienced reoccurring nightmares where my house and town were swept away in a deluge of icy water. It was a mutual friend who happened to be a GP and therapist who connected the nightmares to the unexpressed grief. I hadn't made that link for myself.
I found a piece which puts it brilliantly, so I'll quote it here.
"Grief can feel like sadness. It can also feel like a zillion other things: anger, betrayal, loneliness, fear. You might feel grief as emotions. You might cry and know that you are sad. You might also feel grief physically. You might feel a knot in your stomach. Your heart might race. You might feel tired or have a headache. You might feel everything all at once, and feel mad/sad/crazy and just want to scream. You may feel like you're just drowning and overwhelmed. Or you might feel…nothing. You might just feel … Sometimes grief just feels numb." (Healthcare Chaplaincy Network)
There is no guidebook on "how to grieve"; we all have to just get on with it in our own individual way.
Whatever way yours is, it is right for you.
A Moodscope member.