Grief

5 Things They Don't Tell You About Grief

The parts of grief people don't like to talk about.

Posted Nov 23, 2015

There are a lot of guides out there about grieving. Some even tell you how to go about having "healthy grief." But there are other facets of grief that usually don't get addressed, ones that people usually don't like to talk about.

1. You may feel relief more than you feel sadness.

This can be especially true if your loved one had an extended illness, or if they were notoriously difficult. If you were a caretaker, you may find you are going out more. You no longer are wracked with feelings like, "What if something happens while I'm out?" and "Maybe I've been gone too long." You may even find yourself going on a trip that before would have been unthinkable. It's completely normal to feel relief, especially when your loved one (and you) were suffering.

2. You may wake up one day and be okay.  

There are stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The general rule is that you go through these stages and you start to feel less and less grief as time goes on. However, some people wake up one morning and just feel better. They may have some moments of sadness, but overall their mood is okay. This is as normal as gradually emerging from grief. Also, you may not go through all these stages, nor will you go through them in order.  Which leads us to....

3. There is no one "right" way to grieve.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who first wrote about the five stages of grief, stated, "They are not stops on some linear timeline of grief." You may skip right past anger and go into acceptance. You may spend a few months in depression and go into bargaining. There is no "right" way to grieve. If someone tells you that you aren't grieving like you should, remember that the grief process is as individual as fingerprints. There's no set time for grief. If you do feel like you haven't been yourself in a while, please contact a mental health clinician.  (If you are feeling suicidal, please contact a crisis center or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.)

4. You find out who you can really count on, but you also find out who you can't count on.  

Usually when people talk about grief, they just talk about how they discovered their friends' support and helpfulness. What isn't talked about as much is when you discover that people who you thought were supportive turned out not to be. This discovery can compound your grief.  Keep in mind the person (or persons) in question may be going through his or her own grieving process. They may simply not know what to say. First, give them the benefit of the doubt. But some people just are not good friends after all, or react in such a way that it is just not healthy to continue the friendship or relationship. Grief really simplifies things: This person is helpful, and this person is not. Focus on the helpful people, and the good people you have met as a result of this grief. Counseling can be really beneficial in coping with this additional loss.  

5. Your sex drive may actually increase. 

For many, grief decreases sex drive. For many others, it can increase it. This can be especially conflicting for those who have lost a spouse or partner. But when people are numb from grief, they find that sex helps them feel something. It's also life-affirming at a time when coping with death has become part of one's every day life. If you have lost your spouse or partner, you may be missing the sexual and physical intimacy that you shared. In addition, orgasms release oxytocin, the "bonding" hormone, and endorphins, the "feeling good" hormone, which also reduces your perception of pain.

Grief is an individual process. Reach out for help, and be easy on yourself.  

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