Experiencing the death of a loved one is often the most significant challenge a person faces. Grieving can feel overwhelming and consume every facet of your life. It is during this time that you need the comfort of others the most, and yet social connections often feel strained as your relationships, and social networks seem to be flipped upside-down.
Here are four ways relationships can shift when you are trying to navigate the loss of a loved one:
1. Your Support System May Surprise You
You may be surprised who steps up in your greatest hour of need. Some of your close loved ones, those who have been by your side through dating and childbirth and other life dilemmas may not be there for you during your bereavement. It is often people you’d least expect who show up to hold your hands while you grieve. An old friend you have lost touch with, a co-worker you have hardly spoken to but who understands the complexities of living with death. . . . . . . these are sometimes the people who help you cope with the pain.
2. You Will Feel Angry, and That Is Just Fine
You will try and understand why your close friends and relatives seem to have abandoned you during one of the most painful times in your life. However, understanding won’t make the pain of it go away.
Yes, it’s important to realise that not everyone can cope with death and loss, including the people closest to you. It is also important to recognise that feeling this additional pain, and even anger or resentment about feeling abandoned is normal.
3. People Will Avoid You
Losing loved ones is something all of us will go through, but some people cannot handle this reality. Just the thought of a loved one dying is more than many people can bear. Seeing your pain and sitting with you in your time of darkness will force others to look this stark reality in the face. Many people cannot do it. If you find that friends and relatives seem to be avoiding you, understands it is most likely because they cannot handle their fear of loss.
4. You Will Have Something in Common with Others
For most people, it is hard to understand certain things until they experience it themselves. Having children, running a marathon, getting divorced. Losing a loved one is indeed on this list as well. While your current group of loved ones will try to empathise with you, the reality is that you now belong to an exclusive club of sorts and those whom you feel close to and understood by may change.
This does not mean you will no longer feel close to those you did before the loss, but it says you have now changed and how you perceive the world and others have changed as well.
Relationships are hard, and they can be more difficult during periods of loss and grief. It is essential that you are gentle with yourself during this time and seek support. Research available support groups. Being around those who share your pain can be a comfort during this time.
You may also want the guidance of a psychotherapist who can help you to navigate your complex emotions and offer tools to work through your grief. If you or your loved one is interested in exploring support, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.