My grandma passed away last week a little bit after her 100th birthday. She was one of my most favorite people in the world.
The day after she died, I was upset and cried a lot. In the days that followed, although I had moments of tears, I felt pretty normal.
“Great!” I thought. “I was able to skip the grieving process and can move on with life.”
Clearly, I am a death rookie.
I’m slowly becoming aware that grief takes many forms, not just tears.
It can make you want to turn your whole life upside down.
It can make you not want to deal with mundane things like paying your bills because, “Why bother when life is short?”
It can make you focus on minutiae, like re-writing your to-do list over and over to feel in control.
It can make you be overly happy in an attempt to Enjoy! Every! Minute! Of! Life! because you have been reminded that you and everyone you love will eventually die.
As a death rookie, I can’t offer advice if you are going through a big loss, but I do love to do research, so here’s what I’ve learned so far about the early stages of grief:
- Take time off. I was raised Catholic, so I’ve never gone through the traditional Jewish grieving process, but it seems so sensible to me. My understanding is that from the time the person you love dies until six days after the funeral you take yourself out of your regular routine.
- When you do return to daily life, take it slow.
- Grief can make you question everything; so don’t make any life-changing decisions.
- Expect to be distracted. Again, take things slowly.
- Get support. Reach out to a close friend for comfort and to help you make wise decisions when your brain is muddled.
- There isn’t a normal way to grieve.
My death rookie conclusion: If you’re trucking along towards your Big Vision and death pulls you under like a giant wave, slow down as best you can, don’t make any big decisions, and have compassion for whatever grieving looks like for you.
Now I need to go practice what I’ve learned.
What tips do you have for when grief comes knocking on your door while you’re moving towards your Big Vision?
- The Phases of Jewish Bereavement by Dr. Ron Wolfson on My Jewish Learning.
- The First Few Weeks After a Loss on Ascension Seton.
- Grief: The First Week, Month, Year by Connie Zolnay on Verheyden Funeral Homes.
- 64 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief on What’s Your Grief?
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