Living While Grieving: Tips to Manage Your Expectations By: Tanya Lloyd, LCPC, CCTP, ACS
By Lisa Savage | Jul 22, 2023
One of life’s challenging situations is living while grieving. Specifically, having to participate in daily life (including celebrations and holidays) while grieving (experiencing a range of emotions and/or somatic issues after bereavement or loss).
While we can imagine a sweet/salty combo (trail mix anyone?) It’s often difficult to visualize how one can attend to the commitments and obligations of life while simultaneously dealing with an event resulting in pain and loss. Some examples include: being a member of a wedding party after the end of a relationship; attending a birthday party after the loss of a child; or celebrating a holiday after being fired from a job. Notably, it is not uncommon for people to avoid, isolate, self-medicate, or lash out to escape this experience.
In my practice, I’ve encountered clients concerned with expectations of living while grieving. Between society’s pressure of “returning back to normal,” comparisons to others’ experiences, and often feeling alone, they ask: “Why am I still [insert a range of feeling]? “I should have moved on by now.” My response: “Because loss is significant. And grief often serves as a reminder.” It is often helpful to view grief as a typical response to loss without an expiration date.
The shock and conflict for many is reconciling that grief is not a fixed event with an end date even though experiences of loss, such as death or divorce have fixed dates. Further, despite experiencing a life-altering event life somehow continues along with our expectations on how we should or shouldn’t grieve. Should you or a loved one have the experience of living while grieving, here are some tips to manage those expectations around this challenge:
- Grief is not linear and your process is unique.
- Seeing a mental health professional can and will allow for the space of all feelings related to grief. People often find themselves masking or unable to access the entirety of their emotions which is pivotal in the grieving while living process.
- Intentionally give yourself kindness. Every. Single. Day. To some, this looks like a self-care exercise or setting boundaries. To others, it’s reframing a negative expectation “You should be…” to “You are. And that’s all that you need to be.” There are no limits to how one can treat themselves with kindness!
- Access to 988 National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. There is no shame in gaining immediate support for suicidal thoughts or being in crisis. Finally, keep in mind there is no right way to live and grieve. Support is available. And while it may feel this way—you don’t have to live and grieve alone. https://988hotline.org
Check out this article for more resources:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tanya Lloyd, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP), Board Approved Clinical Supervisor, and founder of Child and Family Creative Counseling provides telehealth clinical supervision, consulting, and counseling services in Maryland.