Conversations with people who aren’t grieving

Griefs weird. Being told that I’m strong feels weird, because despite the fact I can see why they say it and the positive spin they’re trying to put on the god awful situation, but I don’t feel strong. My dad was strong, he battled cancer and didn’t give up despite how many times he wanted to. All that I’m doing is living, able to walk and talk and eat without physical help from someone else. I don’t feel strong, I feel like half of what I’ve always known myself to be. My dad died when I was 19, but he didn’t just die when I was 19, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer when I was 17, I class this as one of the days the old me died (there’s a few, so maybe not all of me, but parts of me) - everything I knew about my dad at the age of 17 was drastically changing and by the time he died, he wasn’t the same person who raised me and taught me to walk and took me camping, he was the man who I had to take to chemo appointments, sit bedside with on summer days because he couldn’t find the energy to get outside & the man I had to help smoke and drink through his final chapter. When I look back, I’d agree I was strong, but I don’t feel strong when grieving. When grieving I feel weak, vulnerable, and like I’ve got too many pieces missing to be able to make the full picture. I read something yesterday that said you can cut out anyone in your life who tries to make you see positive in shitty situations, I don’t agree with the bluntness and full ghost mode, but the point of the post hit deep. What people sometimes forget when dealing with someone going through grief, is that constantly trying to put a positive spin on every situation (everything happens for a reason, but look at where you are now, they’re all lessons along the way) can actually feel a lot like our feelings are being dismissed, and I can’t even begin to describe how many times I’ve sat at 2am trying to work out what the reason for my dad having to battle cancer for 2 years before dying was, or why HE had to suffer for MY life lessons. What seems like a positive spin to someone grieving could actually be a condescending gut punch.
the thing with grief, is it’s different every single day. one thing you always hear is it gets better/easier with time, which I have to half agree and half disagree with. My ability to manage when grief hits has got easier, ie, if someone mentions his name when I’m feeling weak I can now wait until I get home alone to cry, but the crying, the reliving of memories & having to remind yourself that the memories are only getting further away and the opportunity to make more are gone. Realising that the last living memory I’ve got of my dad is infact the day before he died, unable to move from the neck down, apposed to the strong, nature loving softy that raised me. That shit doesn’t get easier with time. One of the hardest things to wrap my head around is the fact that it’s now just something that happened; for 2 years I watched my best friend die and lived it with him, and now for 2 years I’ve done the rest without him. Every single day I have to remind myself that him dying wasn’t a dream and that I’ll never hear his voice again, so even though it’s something that ‘happened’ 2 years ago, I relive it every single day.

The point I want people to get from this post, is that grief isn’t a taboo subject, but to remind yourself before speaking, that you can’t fix the situation. You can’t put a positive spin on someone’s death. But you can be there for a grieving friend without dismissing or ignoring their feelings. My favourite saying is that ‘grief is built up love with no where to go’. If someone who’s grieving comes to you with their thoughts and feelings, please remind yourself that they’re not looking for you to fix the situation, just listening is enough.
For 2 years I felt guilty for smiling or enjoying my life, and the rest is reminding myself that it’s okay. I type this raw and from the heart with no idea where to post it, so chose this forum.

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Hi Natalie, I agree with absolutely everything you have written, i remember being taken aback when people kept saying to me, how well I was coping after my husband died, like you I certainly didn’t feel as if I was coping, I was existing, take care and sending love Jude xx

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I totally get how you feel.
My husband died before Christmas and I have a 14 year old son so kept plodding on for him.
Went back to work, and sorted lots of practical stuff out.
People always say how strong I am but now I feel lost. I feel I have put such a strong face on everything that I daren’t fall apart.

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Thank you for sharing your response and I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t begin to imagine how hard grieving must be when you feel you can’t show that side to your son.
Please don’t feel like you can’t express how you really feel just because people haven’t noticed, one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn along the way with my partner is that other people aren’t mind readers, and your ability to hide your true feelings doesn’t reflect how much they care, you’ll be surprised how much love people have to offer when they know it’s needed.
I hope things get easier for you and I hope you and your son find the best way for you both to speak about the grief between yourselves, you’re both missing the same person and keeping their spirit alive is a lot easier than trying to ignore what happened.
I’m sure you’ll get where you need to be emotionally, but if you don’t feel you can be fully open to people around you, please reach out and offload to a stranger, your feelings are valid regardless of how strong or well you’re coping.
Love Nat x

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Hi Jude, thanks for your response. I suppose in some people’s eyes they praise the fact we get out of bed, which on some accounts is fair but on another it’s a bit of a shock in the sense of ‘wow you think I’m coping well? you should of seen me an hour before I left the house’.
It’s tricky, it’s a mental battle everyday that unfortunately you can only truly understand once being through it yourself. Love Nat x

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Don’t know what to say @NatalieT, except thanks. You put that so well. Best wishes.

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