The aspects of grief that most often surprise people are:

“I never felt this strongly about him while he was alive.”

The emotion of grief can be very powerful, and in the early stages you may find yourself constantly thinking about the dead person, unable to concentrate on everyday matters. This is because the feelings we have toward a loved one are built up over a very long period of time, and his or her role in our life becomes somewhat “taken for granted.” When the relationship is taken away from us, we are constantly reminded of it because things have changed, and our pain is concentrated into a relatively short period.

“It’s two months since she died, I should be over it by now.”

Although the most intense pain of grief may subside in two-three months, the whole grieving process takes much longer than you may expect. Typically, it will take at least one year, and probably two or three – maybe even more – to completely recover from the loss of someone very dear to you, and to rebuild a new life without that person.

“I keep thinking he’s going to walk through that door. I just can’t believe he’s really gone.”

This is a very common reaction during the early stages of grief, even when we’ve known for a long time that the person was dying. It’s also quite common for people who are grieving to “see” or “hear” the one who has died – and most find this comforting once they are assured that this does not mean they’re crazy. Many grievers also draw comfort from talking to the dead person and continuing to imagine the person’s reactions to things that are happening in the present.

“I actually laughed at something today, and then I felt so guilty.”

It’s not normal for our grief to command our attention 24 hours a day, especially after we have worked through the initial shock and pain. Yet, many people are surprised to find that they can still laugh and take pleasure in life. They often feel guilty. As time passes and the happy times start to outweigh the sad, this is a healthy sign that recovery is occurring, and there is nothing to feel guilty about.

Navian Hospice Hawaii common surprises of grieving