Dealing with “You Should Be Over It By Now.”

Society puts a lot of pressure on us to “get over,” “heal,” or “move on.” I believe this is because so many people have never experienced a loss, and their own mortality wheel starts spinning when talking to you about your loss. They want to believe that if the same thing should ever happen to them, there will be a quick timeline to their pain.

The reality is grief is a life-long journey. And until you live each and every day, you don’t know exactly what it is you have lost.

I personally get offended when people refer to the “stages” of grief, especially when they think there is a chronological order to them. While the idea may be comforting, to know that other people have felt the same emotions, people often take them literally to imply there is some type of formula for grief, or an order to follow.

Instead, grief is more like a figure 8. There are many emotions, many parts and pieces to grief that may appear, move away, and reappear throughout your life. Also, not everyone will feel the exact same emotions at the same time, and some people may not experience certain emotions at all – one grieving person may never experience anger, and another may never experience denial.

Instead of focusing on “the stages” of grief, and where you are in your grief journey as defined by a formula, I think it is more important to focus on moving forward – whatever that means to you. I think it is important to focus on taking baby steps and working so that the intensity and frequency of grief lessens over time.

Yes, at the beginning, it is hard to simply get out of bed in the morning. During this time (which has no specific time limit), it is okay to set simple goals, like making it to lunch, making it to dinner, and attempting to sleep through the night. Immediately after my losses, I remember feeling like a robot that functioned without feeling.

Over time, the numbness will wear off. Sometimes this is when we feel an even more intense pain than right after the loss. It doesn’t mean you are doing worse, it just means that the numbness buffer has worn off, and you are fully experiencing the pain of your loss and awareness of your new reality.

While it may be painful to face our grief, we must be careful that we don’t shelve or stuff away our grief. Because, in reality, grief isn’t going anywhere. If  it is left unresolved, grief will find ways to come out frontways, sideways, and backwards. It may take a physical form, such as headaches, high blood pressure, and body aches. It may also come out emotionally and affect our relationships with friends, family, and loved ones.

It is important that we address our grief head-on. I recommend identifying people in your life who “get it.” Those who let you talk, share your feelings, and LISTEN without judgment… and sometimes without advice. This may be in the form of a therapist, support group, close friends, or family. While it may be hard to ask for help sometimes, when it comes to healing from something so large as a loss of a loved one, help is necessary. Grief is too big of an obstacle to go it alone.

While there is no formula to healing after a loss, rest assured that it will get “better.”

A wise teenage camper once told me, “it doesn’t get better, it just gets easier.” And you can still live a full and happy life. Just be patient with yourself and take your time. Find your support network and use them. And don’t let anyone tell you that “you should be over it by now.”

Photo Credit.

4 Comments:

  1. Kathy Dancer said on August 11, 2010 at 10:14 am ... #

    Dear Lynne,

    It must be A God thing. Ironically I saw you on the Morning Show this morning but I read about you last night on YWBB – Young Widow Bulletin Board, an Internet site that I have revisited in the past few years after the death of my husband. Our sons were teenagers when he died suddenly of a heart attack. I myself have struggled with the grief and loss but can relate to so many others regarding their loss. Would love to participate in one of your camps someday. We need one in Illinois! Thank you so much for doing what you do. It is so true that children don’t have a support network (like I did) – it seems they are left out there to do the grief on their own. As with my boys – they knew no one at the time in their peer group that had lost a parent. They are also so very aware of the surviving parent’s grief that they find it difficult to share their grief with that person in fear that it will only burden them more. Enjoy reading your articles will grab your book and read it too. I am considering starting GriefShare through my church but it nice to know there is a place for children to go to share and have a great weekend with others that feel just like them.

  2. Teri said on January 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm ... #

    You know that today of all days it is uncanny that this has been posted on my facebook page. I had a major meltdown at work today and was sent home. I went straight to the Drs and insisted that I had to be seen as I was feeling suicidal. I habe just had what would have been our 31st Anniversary and my husbanda Anniversary 2nd follows next month. people keep telling me I should be going out now and enjoying myself. My kids never mentioned the Anniversary thay said thinking it would upset me. That I cannot understand they will not upset me I am upset. They tell me I am angry at everything but I never thought I was I felt I was just standing up for myself and that they did not like this as they were never used to it. I have not slept a full night sleep for many many months trying only an occasional sleeping pill as I don’t like them. However , I think the sleep deprivation has finally caught up with me so I have given in and will take whatever the Gp has given me for the short term

  3. Roxanne said on January 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm ... #

    Great article. There is no timeline. Every loss is different, every person is different. Finding people who “get it” without judgment or without trying to put you on a timeline is key and something I need to do and revisit. The flip side is to limit involvement with those who don’t. Being around people who say, “Get over it” has the exact opposite effect. Three steps back. Thank you for the post. Particularly helpful today.

  4. elizabeth said on January 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm ... #

    My daughter sent this to me so I could understand
    that its only been a month since my husband of 30yrs, her dad of 25yrs passed away of Brain Cancer. It was a great article and very reassuring for me to know i’m not going crazy because I don’t follow the “stages”. I’m not angry about “why my husband”, because CANCER doesn’t discriminate. I’m not angry at all! I just want people to realize I need time, alot of time. He was my best friend and partner. This article has made me realize “there is NO timeline”. I’ll definitely be forwarding this to many to help them understand,(hopefully)about grief. Thank You!

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