It's normal, but it still surprises you. After several weeks, you're still stuck in the throes of grief while life goes on around you.
People still go to work. They go to parties. People still laugh, and they still get upset about drivers cutting them off on the road. Everyone else is doing all their normal activities. Regular life goes on.
And you feel stuck somewhere in the in-betweenness of still feeling as if life has fallen apart and feeling as if you should begin moving beyond the pain.
Life Goes on Around You
The realization that life goes on around you is an awkward one. Of course the world doesn't stop because you're grieving the death of someone dear to you. You know it in your head, but somehow it still surprises you. You want to be happy for your friends but can't seem to break out of sadness.
The passage of time during grief is skewed somehow. The days go by, but it seems that you are living the same day over and over. So when you hear that a friend is having a baby shower or a wedding is happening, you don't know how to react. It can be difficult to be happy for your friends or family's events while still feeling like your life has stopped.
This is a normal part of grieving.
About a month after Hubby died, the Life Goes On Around You Realization struck me. July Fourth celebrations were being planned all around me. I was surprised by my own thoughts. "How could anyone have a party right now?"
Oh, yeah. I'm the one whose life is on hold.
So should I feel guilty that I don't want to go to a celebration?
Should I feel mad that friends are celebrating without me?
Should I feel hurt that life goes on without me?
Honestly, some of all of that may happen. But it's all normal. No need to feel bad or guilty, but there is also no need to make your friends of family feel bad for moving on. Both sides are valid.
If you are grieving…
Let yourself grieve. Don't feel bad for your feelings. However, try not to make others feel bad because they are not at the same grieving place as you. Move on when you're ready. That's okay, too.
It may take a long time before you feel that you are part of normal life again. That's okay, too. You will get there.
If you have a friend who is grieving…
This one can be more tricky.
Try to realize that your life is moving on while hers is stuck. Invite her to your events. Don't be offended if she doesn't come. Just tell her that if she feels up to it, you would love for her to join you.
Keep gently inviting her; one day she will feel up to joining in. It's important to let her know that your thoughts are still with her and that you will always welcome her into community.
From my experience, the key here is hope.
When you feel that life is going on around you and you're stuck, it's important to feel hope. When you know that others are inviting you and wanting you with them in their fun moments, you can have hope that you will be in that place again.
Even if you can't join life today,
even if you need to be alone in your sadness,
you can be assured that you are missed and your friends want you with them.
You can have hope that you will someday be included in life again.
This post is part of a series called On Grief.
In this series, I will be exploring topics related to grief. My hope is that I can answer some of the questions you are too afraid to ask a new widow or a grieving friend, give you a window into the first two years of grieving a spouse, and answer some practical questions that will help you know how to help others in your circle of friends and family.