You are not crazy. Often we hear people say this when they come through our doors for the first time. I must be crazy; I don’t understand why I am feeling this way.

We also often hear this from people who have been grieving for a while.

What the heck is wrong with me? I feel like I did at the very beginning. I think I must be crazy.

At the beginning, it is exhausting and confusing. We can’t seem to process information as quickly as we are used to. We can’t remember anything, we can’t find words, and it takes longer to respond to people. We have to write things down so we don’t forget. Sometimes we will even forget to eat. Our brains have gone into survival mode. Our pre-frontal cortex has gone off line (the thinking part of our brain). This is normal. It feels crazy and it is a normal response to grief. It does subside over time.

As we move through the grief process, that feeling of crazy will return. I once talked with a lady who came in because it had been two years since her husband died. She couldn’t figure out why she was so overwhelmed again. Slowly we figured it out – together. She had to move. She was leaving the home that she shared with her husband. She was grieving the loss of her husband and grieving the loss of the home that they shared. As we moved through the conversation, she began to understand. Thankfully, she was able to give herself some compassion and understanding.

Our society just has it wrong. We have been taught that we are over it and must just get on with it after a very short period of time. It just doesn’t make sense! How can we put our relationships away in a box and not miss our person? It is cruel for us to even expect that. I remember talking with a mom – she thought there was something wrong with her. The ache she must have been feeling and everyone in her life telling her she was wrong to feel that. It doesn’t make sense.

Our whole world changes when someone we love dies. Everything is different. We begin to realize this over time – as we move through the world. With every realization, there will be a grief response. It might be a big emotive one, or it might be subtle, like forgetting to breathe for a second. Even years later, it can catch us off guard.

The only way out is through. I know we don’t like hearing this. If we can give ourselves permission to feel what shows up for us and understand that it is a process. We will always love our people, so we will always grieve our people. It will move to the back ground and not take up as much brain space or heart space if we can allow it to be there. You are not crazy. Give up the struggle with the struggle and hold yourself with love.

Be Gentle with Yourself.

Denise Torgerson
Community Programs