Grief is an extremely complex emotion that people may be experiencing without knowing it. Discover the many ways grief may show up in someone’s life.
Are you experiencing grief over a lost loved one or a messy breakup? Are you navigating emotions around your life not being as happy and fulfilled as you thought it would be? Are you still trying to find your footing two years into the pandemic and post-pandemic workforce, wondering where your purpose went and if your life has meaning?
Whatever the cause, grief takes many forms and is expressed in a multitude of ways. Because of this, it’s hard to know for sure if what you’re experiencing is true grief, and more importantly, if you’re recovering from grief in a healthy way.
The human experience is dynamic and intense. Two people can experience the same traumatic event and navigate the grief process completely differently, making it hard to understand if you’re doing it “the right way.” But what does “the right way” look like?
Learn What Grief Recovery Looks Like
You may ask yourself questions like, “If I cry enough, does that mean I’m healing? If I can eat Christmas dinner without completely breaking down, am I on the right path? If I don’t cry at all, am I doing it wrong?” Here are some ways to identify grief and what grief recovery might actually look like. The results may surprise you:
Someone successfully in grief recovery may do or have one or more of the following:
- A lot of tears, unexpectedly
- Minimal tears, when a certain song is played
- No tears at all
- Occasional snot crying, but only on holidays
- Reflecting only on fond memories
- Fixating on upsetting/negative experiences/memories
- Remembering and processing the wide spectrum of memories and emotions associated with grief
- Someone who looks like they have it all together
- Someone who is a hot mess
- One may be thriving
- Another may be barely surviving
- The funny person
- The sad person
- The negative person
- The erratic and emotional person
- The cool, calm, collected person
Do you see where we’re going with this? There is no way to truly see – on the outside – whether or not someone is healthily processing and recovering from their grief.
The Truth About Grief
Clients seeking help in their grief recovery journey often share things like, “Well, I cry, so I must be healing.” Other times, clients will initially share only a surface-level, superficial issue that they are dealing with and a few visits in, completely break down about an acute trauma that knocks our socks off.
Two people doing the same things and acting the same way – one may be in grief recovery and the other hasn’t even scratched the surface.
Crying doesn’t mean you are processing grief. Not crying doesn’t mean you are not processing grief.
The message here? Grief looks different on everybody and there is no one-size-fits-all. The person who is happy and can reflect fondly on a lost loved one without breaking down may actually be successfully recovering from grief, while another person mirroring these qualities can be putting on a facade to avoid breaking down in front of people.
Grief Recovery is Possible
Only the person experiencing the grief, if they take an honest introspective look at themselves, can know for sure if they are in grief recovery or heading in that direction – or if they are prolonging the inevitable, burying intense emotions deep down until they rear their ugly heads in other, more dangerous ways that impact physical and mental health.
If you have been affected by grief and embarking on the future feels impossible, you are not alone. We see you, we know you’re hurting, and want to offer you a safe place to share your story and feel supported in your healing journey. Contact us today to set up a free discovery call and spend some time with us – we’re here for you.
Sharon Brubaker is a certified Life Coach and credentialed Grief Specialist who, along with her team, teaches women who are grieving how to process their thoughts and emotions. To learn more about navigating grief, listen to the full podcast episode here or download my free e-Book, The Griever’s Guide, which equips you with the tools to live life after grief; because no griever should have to navigate a broken heart on their own.