When you’ve experienced a loss, things aren’t always as cut and dry as some blogs, resources, and social narratives may lead you to believe. The truth is, we all have very different ways of navigating these challenging and fluctuating emotions. The key is to remember that there is no set way to react, and there is no easy way to pass through the stages of grief (there aren’t even any real “stages,” if we want to be honest).
If you are currently going through the bereavement process and are finding it difficult to create boundaries or have guilt around creating the space that you need, this blog hopefully can help. Our aim is to provide you with ways to thoughtfully manage any social stigma, pressure, or expectations you are experiencing as you flow through your grief experience.
First off, remember that you do not need to respond to anyone, no matter the nature of your relationship. You’re grieving, and that in itself is a very taxing and emotional state to be in. Since you have a lot going on, you must put yourself first and remember that you are not obligated to respond to every message you have received.
If you feel like you should say something, you could share a mass text message that can help thank everyone but still provide you with space and safety to continue grieving in peace.
We suggest something like:
I’m overwhelmed with and thankful for you and all of your love and support through this time. If I haven’t responded to your messages and reach-outs lately, please be patient with me.
I am still learning how to navigate this experience and haven’t done something like this before. I need time and space to process everything and will be in touch soon.
Love [insert your name here]
For those with whom you have a closer connection, being upfront and clear about how you feel can help. Share with l when it feels right, but keeping them in the loop can be helpful as you grieve. When you need help or support or need someone to talk through your feelings, give people the real answer. Those closest to you can be a comfort during a tough time.
Pick a messenger
If you are not in the headspace to speak to anyone, appointing a loved one or family member to act as your messenger. This person can talk to people on your behalf.
They can share how you’re doing, and during the funeral process, they can help find people to help you with daily things such as grocery shopping or taking care of pets, and more. By having one person who manages all of these tasks, you can find the space you need to grieve.
Speak to someone
Sometimes an objective and unbiased set of ears can help. Seeking out someone outside of your immediate family and friend group can give you helpful tools to process your emotions.
It could be a grief counsellor, a Facebook or Slack group or even a faith leader. Speaking to a third party about your experience and connecting with others can help you feel more understood, supported, and less alone.
Connecting with others who have been through the same experience can help guide you through managing grief and setting the necessary boundaries you need to heal healthfully.
No Expectations. Take your time
Let’s set the record straight. There is no Fastest Griever Award out there. There is no expectation that you will heal fast or in the way that your friends and loved ones want you to.
Remember, if you feel like people are expecting too much from you, understand that they a) probably do not fully understand your grieving experience, or b) they are trying to show you that they love and support you. Being transparent and sharing where you are at in your experience and journey is paramount for healing from loss and creating boundaries with friends and loved ones.
It’s completely okay to make plans and cancel - you are not a bad person. Spend the day on the couch, eat what makes you happy and go with the flow. Grief is not on a set timeline, and you shouldn’t be either.