“You’re Not Normal”

/So often when we are grieving we can feel as if we’re far from normal. Like other ‘first’ times in life, a new baby, a new job, a new marriage everyone has an opinion. When our life has been devastated by grief, the “you’re not normal” critics come out in force. We might be doing things and saying things which friends and family think are downright odd.  And so they worry, and they’re more than happy to share that with us. “Why are you still crying?” “You should be over it by now.” “Don’t you think it’s time you cleaned out her room?”

Somehow who we are and how we are grieving is not OK. It seems by other people’s standards we’re not normal after all. There’s something wrong with us. The seed of doubt has been planted in our mind – maybe we are crazy, because it sure does feel like it sometimes.

Along with feeling that we’ve lost the plot to the story of our lives, we also feel so lonely and so very alone at a depth that is beyond measure, beyond belief. Not only have we lost the person we love with all our heart, but we’re being told to not grieve for them in the way that feels right for us. In our fragility and vulnerability there is no one who understands and it seems that we are struck down with the force of all we have to bear.

It is so very painful to feel that way but in actual fact what we are feeling is likely very normal. No two people are the same. No two people love the same and no two people grieve the same. Your grief is your grief and how you deal with it is yours to decide alone.

For someone whose heart is aching to hold their loved one again, you are likely very normal if:

Out of the blue you smell them.  It’s so ‘them’ it’s as if they were here.

The only way you can fall asleep is in front of the TV.

You are so angry at everyone, even at your loved one – for leaving you.

You think you’ve done something wrong because your friends don’t come around or contact you anymore.

You get excited about signs – butterflies, coins, rainbows, etc.

You feel stupid when you share your story with someone who doesn’t understand.

You can’t remember how to do things you’ve done hundreds of times before.

You can’t bear to wash that t-shirt, that sheet, that special toy.

You’re dreading the holidays when everyone else is excited.

You find it hard to be around people who have what you have lost, it hurts so much.

You are fiercely possessive of your loved one’s things.

You think you will never stop crying.

You have no interest in anything – you’re on autopilot.

If someone asks you what you’re doing next week, you can’t even comprehend next week. You are living one minute, one hour at a time.

You talk to your loved one every single day.

You are sure you hear them sometimes.

You kiss and hug their photos.

You follow someone down the street because you are convinced it is them.

You’re thinking about the anniversary months ahead.

You can’t bring yourself to go to the cemetery.

You panic when you can’t remember their face.

You’re at the cemetery every day.

You call their phone and hope for just a moment they’ll answer.

If anyone else asks you how you are you think you’ll scream.

You hope it’s a bad dream you’ll wake up from soon.

Everything is exactly as it was in their room.

You walk into a room and the longing for them hits you like a bolt out of the blue, they are everywhere.

You think your family members may be from another planet – their grief is so different to yours.

You don’t feel safe when you drive the car anymore, since your brain is in a fog.

Many, many years later you cry at some little thing and wonder why after so long.

You remember the time, the day, the week, the year totally and absolutely.

You worry yourself sick about your family now.

You so wish someone could understand.

Maureen Hunter is an inspirational writer and grief steps mentor giving comfort and hope to many. She is passionate about helping people to step through grief and build a new and different life after loss, one in which their loved one is always a part of. She’s happy to share her free ebook with all who grieve.

Photo credit.


  1. Jeanmarie said on October 1, 2012 at 11:54 pm ... #

    Well put. I went through devastating grief shortly after 9/11 when my fiance was murdered. A couple of months after that, my father died. I thought I’d never make it. I didn’t are if I lived or died for awhile. I survived somehow, and life went on, but that core of private grief is always there. It always feels like no one understands, or even cares. Thanks for this.

  2. Fran said on October 2, 2012 at 11:43 am ... #

    After almost five years these points still apply to me. I appreciate the line, “No two people love the same and no two people grieve the same.” I felt that when it was fresh, and I still do. That is more comforting to hear than, “I know how you feel,” or “I know what you are going through, I also lost my …” Even though I lost my husband, and at a young age, with five children at home between ages 9 and 14, I never tell anyone I know how they feel when they lose a loved one. I know I don’t. It’s personal.

  3. Lisa said on October 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm ... #

    My first thought was to send this to my sister. I lost my husband in July, 2012, and I miss him so much. I have two small children, and feel like I’m going crazy sometimes. My family is very helpful, but they don’t fully understand. I know he’s gone but forget sometimes. And yes, I have found myself hoping so much that this is just a horrible horrible dream and I’ll wake up right next to him. Thank you for writing this. After almost 4 years of fighting cancer and then finally losing him, I don’t know the meaning of normal anymore, and don’t think I ever will, at least not what others think it should be. Thank you.

  4. Jane Smith said on October 5, 2012 at 2:06 am ... #

    Thank you for reinforcing what I know logically, but sometimes don’t feel.

    I find myself wishing he’d just come home – even as I know he’s not ever coming back.

    My husband died June 26, 2012. The grief seems to have shifted again and is so overwhelming…

  5. Tay said on October 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm ... #

    His voice. Two and a half years after he died, I can’t remember what my Daddy’s voice sounded like. I feel like I’ve lost all the “Happy Birthday”s and “I love you”s because the memories have just faded.

  6. Lynda Schlender said on October 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm ... #

    We lost our little preemie granddaughter at 8 months. She was born 3 months early but had grown so much and was so normal. Her smile, the way she followed you or anything with her beautiful blue eyes and reached for your face. She was fine the night before and just died in her sleep, we don’t know the reason, but we know God knows and holds her in His arms. Still it is so hard and we miss her everyday.

  7. Jenny said on October 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm ... #

    Thank you for writing this wonderful collection of truths – yes – we are normal. I used to ask everyone if I was normal because I’ve never grieved before over losing a loved one until my soulmate died. After two years, I still cry but not as often, sleep with his shirt, look for signs of him everyday, smell him, feel his presence and miss him more than I ever knew possible. I am going to print this article for reassurance. As a friend said to me after losing Sam, normal is over-rated! Thank you for understanding.

  8. Sean said on October 18, 2012 at 12:04 am ... #

    Beautiful article – thank you. A great reminder that all the “oddball” things we do to deal with a great loss are totally normal.

  9. nancy said on October 28, 2012 at 12:21 am ... #

    I read the list and just kept saying yes, yes, yes…..it really hurts

  10. Debra said on April 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm ... #

    I lost my daughter , my only child 10 years ago this month. She left behind a daughter , who is now 11…my granddaughter, who saved my life. It has been a horrific journey of grief….I survived…barely, with the support of family and friends.

    I am glad to have found this site..I feel safe..people understand, others not a clue…

    This life is a our new normal…

  11. Maureen Hunter said on April 3, 2013 at 8:06 pm ... #

    Sending you all a little piece of my heart to comfort yours. I am so very pleased you can relate to what I have written…..it can be such a comfort for someone to put into words what so many of us feel.

  12. welleminah maseko said on June 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm ... #

    hi, i just lost my husband on the 14th of APRIL 2013, I FEEL LIKE IM LIVING IN SOMEONE ELSES BODY or im living some1 life. i never thought this could happen to me/us not now @ this early age and early stage of our lives. we were very happy, we have a 2 year old beautiful baby girl that he loved so much and i love her so much. he died on his best friends birth day n he was only 28 turning 29years in may the 9th. i feel lost and in so much pain. i would like to subscribe to this site. a single parent in need at the age of 28 i never saw this 1 coming. i wish the was something i can do to get better.

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