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What’s Wrong With Me?

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Grief is such an isolating journey. Your inner you, that voice inside that is private, is struggling to find a place that feels familiar, someplace safe, someplace connected and someplace understood. It feels like everything in the world has changed since your loved one has died. Nothing is the same, cut adrift from the safe and loving harbor that once was.

Everyone around you goes on with life… like it’s the same somehow. It’s an odd world, one where you no longer feel that you fit. “What’s wrong with everyone? Don’t they know that my spouse died, that my life has changed forever, that I don’t know who I am or what I’m supposed to do now?”

Over time, that thinking shifts. As you look around, you begin to wonder, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stop crying? Why do I feel so lost? Why can’t I “get a grip?!” Why are other grievers doing “better” than me. I need to hide my grief — or my healing — because I’m the “outlier.” I just don’t fit. You see the world going on, including your friends and even family members. It makes you feel even more alone, more isolated and different.

If you join a grief group, at first you relate to others and their grief… and then you see the differences. Why don’t I feel as strong as others? Why am I still crying and they’re not? They want to date and I don’t… or maybe I want to date and they don’t? Maybe I don’t think that I ever want to date!! What’s wrong with them… or what’s wrong with me?

You watch. You listen. You wonder and compare. Somehow, you just end up feeling worse or judgmental.

Listen to me: There is nothing wrong with you. You’ve just experienced a horrible loss that has changed your life forever. It takes time… and your life and you are different than anyone else. Please don’t compare. We’re all different, and we grieve — and heal — differently. There are so many factors that affect our grief, including your personality, the way your family taught you to cope (or not) with grief and trauma, your self-talk, your belief system, your sense of resilience, your support system… and on and on. It just makes no sense to make comparisons given that we are all so different.

Be kind to yourself. Be compassionate towards yourself. Grief does heal if you allow it to unfold and give it room and permission to be present in your life. It shifts — and it changes you into a different “you” and your world into a different world.

By Dr. Jo Christner