Everybody grieves. No one person grieves the same. Some people have total breakdowns when they suffer a loss and are not well again for several years. Other people do not show any outward signs of grief, but they are healthy individuals who are dealing in their own way. And for some people, they are somewhere in the middle of the two. These people might not be able to participate in life for a few months to a year before they can move on. It is not just losing a loved one that makes people grieve. People grieve for all kinds of reasons: a break down in the marriage, a loss of a pet, changes in your health, and changes in your child’s health. It is 100% okay to grieve. It is okay to sit in sadness and mourn what you have lost. All I felt was relief when my son Liam was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis. Hallelujah! We finally knew what is wrong with our boy. My reaction was quite different when Maggie, our daughter, was diagnosed at nine months old with the same disease. I knew what lay ahead of us. We had four years under our belt with Liam and his older brother James. I mourned for my baby girl and her lost childhood. There was no way; I could give my sweet girl weekly shots in her thighs. She had the cutest chubbiest thighs (you know those baby thighs that you want to smoosh and eat right up? My girl had them!). I was hit with a wall of emotions, and I cycled through the 5-stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).
Healthy people grieve, and unhealthy people grieve. I have a friend who, when given the news that all schools were shut down for the rest of the year, cried. It was not that she wanted to get rid of her children 8-hours a day, she cried because they had a full, enriched life outside of their home that everyone was quite happy with.
Some of my other friends reacted quite differently.They were thrilled to be stuck at home with their kids. They had lost nothing but gained so much. Having someone totally thrilled with the way life was turning out did not annihilate my first friend’s feelings of sadness of losing school and all the extra curricular activities. The thing is, feelings are a very personal thing. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, and just like a box of chocolates, there is a variety of emotions in each person. Some people cry over lost creamer (It’s a thing trust me, maybe even worst then crying over spilled milk). After a very trying fall, I was able to meet up with my friend Maria at our favorite restaurant. I arrived early and was notified by our waitress immediately upon seeing me that they were out of Irish Cream for my coffee. I became upset over not having Irish Cream. The creamer represented more than an added flavoring for my coffee. I tried to talk to myself out of my grief, and I denied feeling anything at all about the creamer. I was Switzerland on the subject of Irish Creamer. And when emotions bubbled up because I was not Switzerland, I told myself it was stupid to be upset. I know, I know- this is 100% a first world problem if there ever was one. I told myself all kinds of things that were not too kind; instead of just acknowledging my feelings, over the loss of my creamer, I tried to sweep everything under the carpet. No one can treat me any worst then I treat myself. I am my own worst enemy. Many things can be done to help process your grief. There is no right way or wrong way. It does not matter if your bereavement is over losing a loved one or a child being diagnosed with an unexpected disease or disability or losing something silly like Irish creamer (in my defense, it is a really good creamer that pairs so well with this one coffee blend). First off acknowledge your feelings. This is not the time for self-doubt talk or being critical of you. Take it to God in prayer. Pray for the intercession of one of the Saints. I wondered if Saint Bridget of Ireland, who is the saint of diary workers, would intercede on my behalf over the lack of fake coffee creamer. After some time in prayer, I was left with a sense of peace, a peace that I had not felt in weeks. I was upset that my son Liam had been given a fatal disease prognosis. I had lost all control in my life. I could not fix my son nor was the lack of Irish cream for my coffee in my control. Sometimes peace does not come easy in the grief process, and you find yourself crying all the time or angry at everyone. The little things that never upset you before are driving you bonkers. Why oh why can I hear my husband chewing across the room? Remember to take care of you. Come up with a self-care routine that is about you, whether it is pouring a glass of wine and video chatting with your best friends or a bubble bath with your favorite book. If things are dark and you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, there is no shame in seeking out a mental health worker to help you process your grief. In today’s world, a mental health provider is often a phone call or video chat away. It is a harsh world out there, and no one should have to go through this process alone.