It is often said that grief can take many forms, and everyone grieves in different ways. While grief is typically expected when a loved one passes, what if you don’t experience that devastating sadness after a loss? In fact, the grief might occur a few years later, surprising you when it hits.
If the above is something you’re experiencing presently, or this is the first time you’ve heard of it – fret not, it is a natural reaction that many go through.
What is delayed grief?
Just as its name implies, delayed grief is when you do not fully experience the emotional impact of a loss and until long after it has happened. Typically, people who experience delayed grief may seem perfectly fine during the funeral service. However, after a few months or even years down the line, they are struck by a sense of deep sadness that hits them out of the blue.
The trigger behind this may be another loss or something that seems small or inconsequential. When the grief finally “breaks free”, you may feel confused at the flood of emotions that leaves you overwhelmed. Although it is understandable for you to feel apprehensive about its arrival, you have the opportunity to work through your feelings and heal in time.
What are its symptoms?
You may be able to hold off the feelings that come with grief, but it will inevitably manifest in some way or another. You might experience these symptoms that are commonly associated with delayed grief:
- Severe headaches
- Unexplainable body aches
- Mood swings
- Feeling apathetic and lethargic
- Inability to cope with a daily routine
It’s worth mentioning that grief is unique for everyone, so these symptoms may indicate actual grieving for some but indicate delayed grieving for others. If you are concerned that you are not coping well with a death, reach out to a counsellor or therapist for help.
What are the causes?
Delayed grief often happens when your mind involuntarily blocks the natural process of grieving. The mind could be reacting to any or all of the following situations:
- When the loss is too overwhelming, and you are not able to handle it at present
This could happen when a close person (such as a spouse or a child) passes away. The shock from the loss, paired with denial, puts the grief on hold until later.
- When you are dealing with pressing matters at the time
From dealing with funeral paperwork and making burial arrangements, you are busy handling practical matters. There are responsibilities that require immediate attention, leaving no room for you to grieve.
- When you have to deal with something equally significant soon after the loss
There may be other major events happening which kept you away from the usual grieving process, like a divorce, pregnancy or an unexpected layoff.
What can you do about it?
If you believe that you are dealing with delayed grief, here are some things that you can do to get through this challenging experience.
- Reach out to friends and family
Grief can be an isolating experience, much less delayed grief when you feel like everyone else has already moved on. It is never too late to talk it through, so reach out to your trusted circle and let them know you need their support. Alternatively, you can also turn to a therapist or a support group.
- Take care of your health
It’s important to continue taking care of yourself, even if the grief is hitting you hard. Get enough sleep and ensure you are eating enough and staying hydrated.
- Make time for yourself
Take some time off your everyday responsibilities to work through your thoughts and emotions. Adopt healthy coping strategies to release stress, which will help you build resilience over time to handle the pain that comes and goes.
It will get better in time
Dealing with tough emotions is difficult enough, and delayed grief can seem even more dreadful. However, it is a normal experience to go through when one is facing a loss. Remember that you are allowed to grieve in your own way, and with the help of your loved ones and healthy coping strategies, you can begin to heal.
At Casket Fairprice, we have more than a decade of experience in providing one-stop funeral services. Be it a Christian or Buddhist funeral, let our dedicated team provide an honourable send-off for your loved one.