It’s disgusting out today. Yesterday I sat at my window and watched charming white snowflakes fall gently from the sky, today all I see are sloppy wet raindrops pelting the ground and turning everything to slush.
Tensions are running high around the house. No school on Monday and Tuesday means we’ve been cooped up for far too long, yet no one wants to get dressed and go outside in the cold wet muck. I know it’s up to me to set a positive tone for my kids while we ride out the day, but I used up all my enthusiasm yesterday. Frankly, I didn’t have much to begin with.
Winter gets to me every time. My average mood is two standard deviations towards grouchy. My mind and body have gone into partial hibernation and I feel terrible about myself. My husband says I should get some exercise, go to the gym or walk the dog, but I’m not sure where I would find the energy.
You know, it’s just not that easy to get up when you’re feeling down. Even if your plate is relatively empty, the idea of adding a single thing feels unfathomable. The smallest task causes anxiety and the idea of actively trying to feel better is overwhelming. There are so many hurdles between you and doing something constructive, and so many rationalizations and excuses for taking the path of least resistance.
Even if my winter melancholy is a bit hyperbole, I know how this goes. I get feelings of nothingness, of incapacitation, of “what’s the use?”. I’ve experienced them in the context of grief, and I’ve experienced them in several other contexts that will, for now, remain between me my diary.
Many of you are finding this post within months of a loved one’s death and I know that the idea of ever feeling better might seem laughable. I get that you don’t have space in your brain to think about things like self-care and new ways of coping. I get that you need time fully feel the terribleness of your loss. I understand you need time to just be.
However, I also know that winter does not last forever and someday, maybe in a few months or maybe in a year, you will feel stronger and more in control. This is why we write posts that we hope will be helpful to you now and posts we hope will be helpful to you in the future. Because what someone needs when they are heavily entrenched in the dark days of acute grief, is very different than what they may need months or years later. Grieving – finding ways to cope, maintaining connection, and making sense of the world in the context of life after a loss – is forever; but as you and your understanding of grief changes, so will your needs.
Lately we’ve found that when we write posts with an optimistic slant or which discuss taking deliberate action (for example, posts on nutrition, exercise, posttraumatic growth, and actively shifting negative thinking), we receive pushback from people with responses that range from “you don’t know anything about grief” to “this is stupid” to “this won’t work”.
Now I know that our posts won’t always resonate with everyone, but admittedly such intense responses have been puzzling and a little disheartening. What’s helpful to one person may not be helpful to another – you know this, I know this, we all know this. Just because you may not like an idea, doesn’t mean other readers won’t. Just because something is not right for you right now, doesn’t mean it never will be.
Something that can feel very frustrating when you’re grieving is that a lot of people offer you advice. People don’t always realize that grieving and coping are unique to the individual, and so they assume recommendations based on what worked for them or their neighbor’s Aunt Suzy will be helpful. Unsolicited and unrealistic advice, thrust upon you when you are not in the right place to receive it, can be off-putting. So I understand if you want to take a defensive stance against it. However, I caution you from broadly closing yourself off from all ideas that you find challenging or inconsistent with your experience because your experience will continue to evolve and change.
In the end, it is ultimately up to you to sort through what you are told about grief and coping – whether from a friend, support group member, therapist, or a grief website like ours. Some things will really resonate with you, these are often the things that feel the most manageable and comfortable – hold onto these things and take whatever strength you can from them. Other things will never be for you, these are fairly easy to spot – throw these things away and never look back. And for everything in the middle of ‘yes, absolutely’ and ‘no, never’, just say ‘maybe’. Even if you never come back to this site, keep yourself open to the humble possibility of ‘maybe’.