Grief involves such a vast array of feelings. I have been thinking this week about how powerful it can be to identify what it is we are really feeling. Often, once it is identified and expressed then understood and empathised with, it can dissolve or at least feel less of a problem to manage. So, I sat and wrote a list of all the different feelings I have felt when grieving.
1. Anger – you know about my dealings with this one of course. Feeling like I want to sucker punch anyone who simply breathes too loud, puts something back in the wrong place, walks really slow in front of me.
2. Shock – another I have frequently mentioned and am still feeling quite profoundly. Cue comedic wide eyes and jaw-dropped expression. How has this happened???? It can be easy to think on some level we must have felt prepared as there was a serious illness involved. Not at all, for two reasons: I always felt hopeful, and we did have reason to hope along the way. Secondly, now I don’t feel the passage of time of when he was ill. I think of his illness and death as one event that’s hit us like a train crash. A year ago he was here and healthy, and that year may as well have been five minutes. He was here, now he is gone. How and why?
3. Depression – feeling surrounded by utter darkness. In a pit of gloom and despair and all the other things associated.
4. Pain – physical and emotional.
5. Desperation – a couple of times I have felt a powerful desire to go out looking for my Dad. He MUST be out there somewhere, I need need need to find him.
6. Emptiness – a lot of these emotions could seem like synonyms but actually there can be very subtle yet very profound differences that are hard to put into words. It’s kind of like being numb but not about feeling no pain. It’s feeling hollow, no meaning, everything has lost it’s colour.
7. Confusion – about so many things… why I am driving in the complete wrong direction? Putting the weetabix box into the fridge? When reading my 20 year old self in my journal after Robb died this feeling is so apparent. So many rhetorical questions; should I have done this? Said this? Felt this? Confusion can be similar to shock, but again, a subtle difference.
8. Loneliness – with this I am referring to how you can feel alone because you so want to talk about this pain, this person, this huge event.. but no one else in your immediate vicinity does (most of the time).
9. Isolation – last night I felt this very intensely as great waves of emotion kept coming and coming and tears just running down my face without ceasing. I didn’t understand or recognise what I was feeling and I felt disconnected from my husband because this pain was so giant and consuming and it was hard to help him understand.
10. Fear & anxiety – it’s irrational, debilitating at times, you feel like a complete mental person.
11. Loss – when we went on a family holiday to America when I was a teenager, my Dad bought these new sunglasses and a hat for the holiday. He lost them at some point and it became a running joke, out of nowhere he would say, “alright, you’ve had your fun, who’s got my hat and sunglasses”? There were many variations of that same question that kept coming for the rest of the trip. He went about our holiday still doing things and enjoying, but the glare of the sun in his eyes as he drove our camper, the heat burning down on his head as we walked around a national park… He would have thought, my experience would be just that bit better with my hat and sunglasses. Now magnify that trite example. Our lives are that bit less… too many words… without my Dad.
12. Numb – I’m not feeling pain, I’m not feeling happy. I’m just not feeling.
13. Apathetic – read I Don’t Care.
14. Suicidal – though it may be fleeting, though I may not feel at all in any danger from myself, I know at times early on I would feel I don’t want to live in a world like this. I don’t want to experience any more pain. I don’t want to wait to see my Dad again. As I’ve said, it’s important to express feelings and I don’t think anyone should be ashamed to express this one, in fact, it’s important that you do.
15. Hurt – it’s hard to put this in to words. The best I can do is say it’s like someone has broken your heart.
16. Guilt – or regret. I should have done more, said more, been there more.
17. Sadness – some days, I just feel like Eeyore.
18. Insecure – boy, did I feel this after Robb, not so much with Dad. Did he really love me? Did I have a right to be with him at the end? So painful to want a reassurance of love that you can never again get from that particular person.
19. Weary – I can’t be bothered to say anything about this.
If you have experienced/know of any other feelings feel free to share in a comment.