Grief is frustratingly unpredictable. Sometimes, you show signs of mourning even before your loved one dies. Other times, you feel like you’ve recovered from the deep sadness, only to be triggered yet again by a song at the grocery store or a picture of a dog on a friend’s social media profile. What’s most unpredictable is the strange case of grief manifesting only years after the death of a loved one. It’s called delayed grief. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you’re most likely suffering this type of emotion:
Most people exhibiting delayed grief are those who didn’t have the opportunity to mourn at the time of loss. They’re often the ones who were supposed to be strong for the surviving family members. Or they were responsible for arranging the funeral and taking care of the deceased’s last wishes. In the flurry of preparing eulogies, reaching out to relatives, and picking caskets, these people suppress their grief so that they can do what’s expected of them. Weeks or years later, they find themselves releasing their bottled-up emotions in an angry outburst. If you still have anger problems months after a loved one’s death, it’s best to talk to a therapist. They can help you process your long-repressed emotions.
When you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, it’s reasonable to miss them and ask questions about why this happened to your family. The moment you’re granted space and time to grieve, it feels like you’re catching up on everything you missed and you want to hold on to your loved one’s memory as long as you can. This can lead to obsessive thinking and behavior. You might find yourself dialing the phone number of your deceased loved one or rewinding the scenarios when you could have saved your relative. There might be instances when you dream of your loved one for days because you’ve been thinking about them all the time. If you’ve been overthinking, find productive ways to remember your loved one. For instance, you can do volunteer work or host family reunions. Don’t be stuck with your constantly replaying thoughts.
In other instances, the repression can extend further as a way of coping with the reality of loss, sliding into sheer indifference. On one hand, this apathy serves as a protective shield so that you won’t have to face the tragedy of death. On the other hand, it drives you to persistent depression, with no motivation or enjoyment in life whatsoever. Death is a reality that you have to deal with head-on. You can’t hide behind the cloak of apathy for a long time. It’s going to ruin your physical, mental, and social well-being. If you’ve been isolating yourself from people and neglecting your work, family, or personal hygiene, you need to snap out of apathy. Start by reconnecting with your friends and loved ones and go back to your old routine. Doing so will give you normalcy in this time of confusion.
Overall, delayed grief can happen to anyone; you can go on with life not knowing that you’re suffering. So you should be aware of its symptoms and talk to a professional to deal with it healthily.