When someone told me that I was stuck in grief, I had no idea what they meant. I wondered, is being stuck in grief the same as a Honda Civic getting stuck in the mud during a rainstorm? It had been two years, and I was still grieving. I remember reading a blog post like this. It said, “there is no timeline to grief”. It left me confused. How could I be stuck if there was no timeline to my grief? I was depressed and sad, wondering if I’d ever feel “normal” again. I felt justified in my grief. I wrapped it around me like a favorite blanket on a cold winter night. Whenever someone asked I said, “I’m fine.” Looking back in time, I was most certainly stuck and in serious denial about being stuck.
When we grieve, the natural tendency is to isolate ourselves. We feel overwhelming sadness, we stop doing the things we love and do just enough to get through each day.
We know we are stuck when we lose sight of the meaning and purpose in life. Feelings of happiness, peace and joy feel foreign to us. We become focused on survival rather than living. We numb ourselves from the pain and become zombies walking through each day – but not really living.
You may be stuck if you are unable to cry, if your emotions stay the same for days at a time, or if you have no interest in feeling any better. You isolate yourself from family and friends. You may be stuck if you are unable to move or get rid of their things, and you don’t talk about them with family and friends. These are all signs you may be stuck in grief.
Unfortunately, society teaches us that asking for help as a sign of weakness. I disagree. Asking for help is a sign of true strength and commitment to healing.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving
The way to get unstuck is to do something different to change up your routine. Anything different will do.
- Going to see a therapist is an obvious choice although some people believe that seeing a therapist means they are somehow broken. Another societal taboo that should be eliminated.
- Have a friend take you to an aquarium, museum, or zoo to get you out of the house and break up your routine.
- Revisit a sport, activity or craft project you used to love to tap into your creativity.
- Take a hike in nature to reflect and gain a new perspective.
Recognizing that we are stuck is the first step. Knowing that we need to do something different is the next step. Creating change by using any of the above suggestions will help you let go of some of the pain of grief and open space in your life for your new reality to unfold.