Normal grief is the natural and necessary way people respond to personally painful or traumatic events. As we follow Holly in the movie P.S. I Love You we watch her cry, memorialize her husband and become a recluse. Her close friends and mother keep calling and showing up. They encourage her to socialize, travel, and reflect on the good times to pull her along her journey while they live their own lives. Holly’s friends are getting married and having babies but she is too consumed with sorrow to share their joy. Her grief is prolonged.
Most survivors normally exhibit some/all of the following characteristics temporarily when responding to a loss in the days, weeks, or months after the death of a loved one:
Tears, crying, or sobbing
Sleep pattern changes, such as difficulty falling asleep or too little/too much sleep
An overall lack of energy
Feeling lethargic or apathetic about the day's necessary tasks or life in general
Changes in appetite, such as not wanting to eat or consuming too much, particularly junk food
Withdrawing from normal/usual social interactions and relationships
Difficulty concentrating or focusing on a task, whether at work, personally, a hobby, etc.
Questioning spiritual or religious beliefs, job/career choices or life goals
Feelings of anger, guilt, loneliness, depression, emptiness, sadness, etc. -- but still occasionally experiencing moments of joy/happiness
While there is no timetable for grief, most grievers experience some/all of the above reactions most profoundly in the immediate days/weeks following a loss, but then gradually return to a “new normal” in the months afterward.
You won't entirely forget your loved one, but in time, you’ll learn how to cope with the absence and the scar on your heart and in your soul. It’s almost like you wake up one day and still feel pain and loss but you realize for the past week or two you’re no longer crying every day and you’re able to reach out a little and give of yourself. You’re starting to live without that person, or major life loss, at forefront of your thoughts and day.
Cheryl Rumley, RN
Owner, Apex Health Care Services &
Aging in Place Toolkit Advisor