When my brother died my best friend and I discussed starting a business to teach seminars on dealing with death and grief. We were planning on offering the classes to companies. The idea came about after on my first day back when offered condolences by Executive Director I burst in to tears and he then avoided me like I had the plague for a year. If he saw me coming he would turn around, return to his office and close the door.
I’ve learned a lot about grief in the last 6 years. First thing I learned is that your life does not “return to normal”. I have had to learn a new normal. My life has been altered with his death. There are now two segments to my life: before Sean died and after Sean died. People didn’t and don’t understand that. We have to remember that grief is tied to the loss of something. Losing a loved one, a marriage, job or pet means a change in your life. This change is unalterable and has lasting consequences. I think it is like the “phantom limb” that amputee’s experience. We will feel the need to commune with what has been lost. Kind of like when you lose something but you aren’t quite sure what so you go through your purse or pockets looking for something that you know you need. The key is to realize that you now have a new path to learn.
The second thing I have learned is that you never forget. I remember Sean every day. There are always things that my first thought is “Can’t wait to tell Sean”. Of course I can’t in the old way. The initial emotional shattering does ease, but there is always that feeling. I don’t think time heals the wound, but it allows you to learn survival skills so you can continue on.
The first year just sucks. You have the initial loss that is followed by a year of firsts. There is first holiday without them. This year of firsts is a year of continual reopening of the wound. People in the middle of that grief tend to describe it as a year of being shell-shocked. It is just like that. You are repeatedly bombarded with the reminder of your loss and you have no tolerance as of yet.
This scratches the surface of what I have learned. There is so much more, but it gives you an idea.