When I used to work in hospice, I remember getting assigned one of my first patients (along with her family) because as people who work in hospice or in death and dying know, in providing grief and bereavement counseling, you also work with the family not just the patient that is leaving us behind.
For the sake of her privacy and to continue to refer to her in this post, I will call her Jean (please be informed this is not her name of course). During my work with Jean, I was able to learn a lot about her as she enjoyed looking back at her life and sharing many of her life stories and experiences with me. Throughout the months that I had gotten to know her, I had developed a special rapport with her. When that unfortunate day came that she left us, I was surprised. Although expected, I was still at a loss for words. During that time, I felt so sad but didn't necessarily process it. Six years later, I find myself suddenly thinking of her and all the "shoulda, coulda, wouldas" during my time with her.
My experience with the sadness and grief hitting me now makes me realize that at the time, I may have put my coping on the back burner as I did have many other patients to meet with, however only now am I fully processing the impact she had on me and the sadness I felt when she left us which leads me to my point of this post: Is it too late to grieve? I would have to argue that by acknowledging our emotions and processing that someone meant something to us is important to healing. We hear all the time in society, "we should move on" after someone dies, but the truth of the matter is that we don't have to move on. We can process losses in our own time and never have to "move on" but instead remember and grieve because that is what makes us human. We are emotional beings and we have feelings. Everyone copes and grieves differently and some need less time and others more.
One of my favorite quotes by Mahatma Gandhi is “Where there is love there is life.”
When does grieving become a problem instead of a natural process? If it starts to get in the way of how you live and affects your relationships, school, jobs, or you begin having thoughts of wanting it to all end- It is vital to seek immediate help from a professional. The national suicide prevention hotline is a 24/7 hotline dedicated to assisting individuals with thoughts of suicide. They can be reached at: 800-273-8255.
By grieving, we are following the love and remembering. If you are having a particularly challenging time grieving, reach out to a psychotherapist in your area.
Thanks for talking it out with me,