19 feelings I have felt during grief

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 feeling. Often, once it is identified and expressed then (ideally) 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 (it’s not sunshine and roses so you may want to make yourself a cup of tea before you get stuck in).

1. Anger

This doesn’t only involve random outbursts. I feel it more as an underlying and constant irritation with the world. I want to sucker punch anyone who simply breathes too loud, puts something back in the wrong place or walks really slow in front of me.

2. Shock

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 and I need, need, need to find him. The strength of this illogical feeling is baffling.

6. Emptiness

These emotions could seem like synonyms but actually there can be subtle yet profound differences that are hard to put into words. Emptiness is like being numb but is 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? Why am I 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, there is a subtle difference.

8. Loneliness

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 were 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 and debilitating at times and I feel like I’ve completely and utterly, lost it.

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 assailing us for the rest of the trip. He went about our holiday still doing things and enjoying his days but with 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… I reckon he 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… in everything… 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 to 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 but not so much with Dad. Did he really love me? Did I have a right to be with him at the end? It is so painful to want a reassurance of love that you can never get again from that particular person.

19. Weary

Well, I can’t be bothered to say anything about this.

If you have experienced these or any other feelings when experiencing grief, feel free to share in a comment.

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