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Things nobody tells you about grief.

Updated: Jan 14




When my sister Jaye passed away unexpectedly 15 years ago, I was not at all prepared for grief. I had previously only lost my great-grandmother, and whilst I loved her dearly and was sad, it was nothing like this. The physical, mental and emotional exhaustion; the rollercoaster of emotions; and, the overwhelming panic, fear and anxiety. It was A LOT. And nobody talks about it. So let’s do just that. 


The Exhausting Early Stages:


In the early stages of grief, the weight is not only emotional but physical and mental. The exhaustion is all-encompassing, a fatigue that seeps into every fibre of your being. Grieving requires immense energy as you grapple with the reality of loss, adjust to a new normal, and attempt to understand the ever-changing emotions and thoughts that arise.


You will likely need more rest than usual, so don’t take on as much as you normally would, ask for help and set some boundaries. There is no timeframe on when this will pass, but it will start to ease off as time goes on and then you can get back to your regular capacity.


Don’t rush through this time, go gently with yourself.


The Spectrum of Emotions:


When we think of grief we think sadness, devastation and loss. But grief is a spectrum of emotions, and nobody tells you that you may find yourself experiencing emotions you never expected. Maybe it’s anger, resentment, confusion, fear or relief. You may even experience waves of different emotions in one day.


We tend to push down or push away emotions that we don’t feel are “acceptable” so we don’t ever process them or try to understand where they are coming from. I tell my clients that it is important to feel all the emotions that arise - and that they will not be judged for expressing them. We go where the grief takes us, we don’t only shine the light on certain areas, we look at all of it to work through it.


You are not bad or wrong for feeling this way. It is all part of the process.


In the Shadows:


The emotional and psychological impact of a loss can trigger intense and overwhelming feelings. Grief may bring with it uninvited guests like panic attacks, fear and anxiety. And though frightening at times, this can be a normal part of the process.


I experienced panic attacks after Jaye died and it was a huge shock as I’d never experienced anything like it in my life and I didn’t know what to do. Please reach out for professional support if you need strategies for working through this, especially if it doesn’t start to ease off in the first few weeks. You don’t have to suffer alone.


You aren’t weak or crazy - a profound change has just happened in your life, and, understandably, your body and mind might be reacting in this way. Fear and anxiety are normal reactions to loss - you are now facing a world that seems forever altered. Recognising and acknowledging these feelings is a vital step toward understanding and working through your grief. 


As you bravely navigate the complexities of grief, be kind to yourself, and acknowledge the difficulties while embracing the power of hope. May you find solace through understanding that even in the darkest moments, there is a path forward - just take it one step at a time, one day at a time.


S.W.

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