Do you sometimes feel like there are two versions of you? One is the person you’ve always been, the other is the inner you, the one that’s coping with loss but trying to maintain an outward appearance to friends and family that you’re the same person as you’ve ever been.
Why do we feel this way after loss? Maybe because we feel the expectations of those around us to get back to “normal.” Sometimes we don’t want to bother people with our grief or cause others to be uncomfortable around us, so we maintain two personas – the one everyone sees and the one coping with grief inside.
How do we reconcile the two me’s? In the first stages after loss, you may well find grief overwhelms any idea of trying to “put on a happy face,” but as time goes on you may get the message from others that they prefer the happy façade over what you are really feeling as they have difficulty coping with the changes you’ve been through.
If this is the case for you, here are a few ideas about how to get back to the real you and remain your authentic self:
- Consider carefully who you share your story with, understanding that many may not have the life experiences or emotional tools to enable them to understand your situation and provide support. They may react to your grief in a way you might not be anticipating or may be judgemental or unkind. If this is the case, try to understand that they may not be ready to handle the depth of your feelings and look elsewhere for someone with whom you can share your story.
- Remember you don’t have to share everything with everyone. There may be some things you don’t want to share with others or that feels too private. You aren’t under any obligation to share every detail with everyone.
- Think about journaling. Writing and recording your thoughts daily in a journal helps to create some order in your world when it feels like it’s in chaos. A journal is a chronicle of your thoughts over time and provides an outlet for your feelings as you work your way through grief. It’s often a great tool to measure your progress as you look back at months of writing and see how your thoughts evolved.
- Find a supportive bereavement or grief group or organization offering grief workshops to help you work through the initial stages of loss in an atmosphere of acceptance and hope with others who’ve shared a similar loss.
- Finally, it’s important to realize, grief is a process. There is no “right” timeline You don’t have to recover in 6 months or a year or even two or three, and letting yourself gradually accept and move forward is the best way to create a new life for yourself. Sometimes this might mean temporarily stepping back from or even letting go of people who may not be supportive or understanding, even relationships that may have lasted many years, but there are lots of others, like at Widowed Friends, you’ll find who understand and can help you move forward on your journey.
As you try to be more authentic in how you are really feeling, it’s important that you adjust in your own time and that you move forward in your own way when you are ready and not on anyone else’s schedule.
Moving forward means taking one step at a time, sometimes big steps, sometimes little and sometimes backwards but trying to always keep moving as you bring together the two aspects of yourself before and after loss, rebuilding a new you.