What to Expect from Grief

Mary-Ann Bowman, PhD

  • Expect grief to be a process that will last longer than you expect.
  • Expect intense and changing emotions.
  • Expect to feel physical effects of grief, including fatigue.
  • Expect that you won’t feel like yourself for a long time.
  • Expect to feel lonely.
  • Expect that other people will soon go back to “normal” life, but that it will take you some time to find your “new normal”.
  • Expect to feel afraid that more terrible things will happen in your life.
  • Expect to feel as if nothing is important anymore.
  • Expect that you will feel happiness again.
  • Expect anger.
  • Expect more tears than you thought possible.
  • Expect that some people will seem nervous around you, and that some may even avoid you.
  • Expect that everyday conversations will seem meaningless to you, and in fact, may make you angry. 
  • Expect the grief to soften with time.
  • Expect your partner or spouse to grieve differently than you do.
  • Expect to feel raw, wounded, and heartbroken.
  • Expect that you will have little energy and less patience on some days.
  • Expect guilt.
  • Expect good days and bad days, and early in the grief you may have good hours and bad hours.
  • Expect that people will not know what to say, and that some will say really stupid things. 
  • Expect to feel crazy at times (but you aren’t).
  • Expect people to think you should be “over” your grief when you are right in the middle of it. 
  • Expect to need support to get through this.
  • Expect that you will find things that make you smile again.
  • Expect not to know what to expect.

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