The question comes like clockwork during the seemingly endless days of grief, “is this normal?”
For most people, the answer is, “yes.”
This is grief.
Grief is strange. It’s a topsy-turvy tornado of a land where the ground shifts and shimmies under foot. Numbness is as common as sorrow. So too is shock, sadness, anger, fear, loneliness, relief, love, and all the other emotions condensed into grief. It is different for everyone, yet unpredictable for all. And all too often, it lasts long after our nearest and dearest stop wondering and asking how we’re doing.
Nevertheless, the world keeps spinning as we squint into the unforeseeable future. That’s why we ask, “am I normal?” or worse, “what’s wrong with me?” We ask because the people around us move on. We ask since sadness can feel relentless. We question ourselves because loss is more painful than imagined. We doubt we’re ok, because we’re scared we’re not going to be. We ask because it’s hard to stand in life’s shadow while simultaneously believing the light returns.
But, why do we expect ourselves to be able to say a quick goodbye to a loved one’s entire lifetime?
It’s easy to believe many things that aren’t true until it happens to us, don’t you think? Then the veil drops. This unending sprouting and fading of existence is everywhere. It’s all so fragile. It’s all so beautiful. It’s all so quick. It’s all so hard. Yet it’s hard to see unless life forces your gaze. So we question whether we’re normal as our ground shifts and shimmies even as it looks steady mere inches away, because not everyone stands on this side of the veil.
That’s why we’re not going to make this harder on ourselves, ok? No need to add insult to injury. Saying goodbye is hard enough. Grieving is hard enough. There’s no getting around it. It takes time. What we learn is that it takes 10,000 different goodbyes before all that remains of grief is love.
This is grief.
Robynne Boyd is the Co-Founder of Goodgrief App, the social network for loss. It is available in the iOS App Store, Google Play and www.goodgriefapp.com. You can follow Goodgrief App on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.