It’s taken me a couple of weeks to get to where I’m ready to share and publish this, as I struggled through the tears. I’ve been putting off writing about this but it’s called me to share. Friend grief fog is an important grief topic to bring to the light.
I’ve emerged from a deep dark sad funk and realized, damn, grief's really got a hold of me again. I recognize the unhealthy coping of eating and drinking too much had crept back in. Again…sigh. How did I get to this friend grief fog and not even know it in the first place?
Here’s how friend grief fog rolled in:
Sue’s death was hard and it me and Bill like a sledge hammer. We spent the weekend it happened in December crying and reminiscing. We’re both so thankful we took a trip to the UK in 2019 and got to spend time Sue & Andy again. Then the next week, I fell and broke my wrist, then it was off for a weekend with Kurt my youngest & Sarah to celebrate an early Christmas and then the next week was Christmas and then Korey my eldest, Bo, Evie and Teagan. Grandchildren really brighten your day and were a balm for my soul. Then it was the New Year. Then back to work.
Sue’s death was there hanging out the entire time. Reminders of her and our trips are everywhere. Inside all over the house, in my office and images all over, things in the back yard. Andy, Sue's spouse, and I keep in contact via FB messenger and it’s such a blessing to be able to regularly chat and be there for him as only someone who’s lost a spouse can. He’s doing remarkably well considering he’s alone in a pandemic now.
On top of all this I’m wasn’t able to be in the UK on the next flight like I would normally have been. I want so very much to be there in person with Andy help out just like Sue was when Kris died. Thanks to the pandemic, travel to the UK is not an option. It pains me to not be there but I get it. Thousands of others are in a similar situation.
It didn’t dawn on me until we got into January that I was in a deep grieving depression. I thought I was processing and dealing with it okay. I mean it’s not like my spouse or parent died. It was a dear friend. But it feels huge to me. Still hurts deep.
Friend grief is different in that people are sorry for your loss. However, they don’t get that it’s like losing a family member. In some cases, our friends are more like family than our family of origin. There’s so very little written about friend loss. Society doesn’t even know how to talk about this. The western world doesn’t talk about grief nor what it looks like or how to deal with it. Your place of employment is unlikely to give you time off, people expect you to bounce right back and other friends may even get weird over your grief of your friend.
In January, I was able to attend via webcast her memorial service. An important part of the grieving process is participating in funerals and memorial services. That event helped illuminate the depth of my bereavement and despondency.
I realized I was hardly able to do any forward planning for 2021, I hadn’t cracked open my yearly planning guide nor even cared to do so. That’s so NOT me. I’m a year end reviewer and then planner. Heck, I even published a Resilient Goals and Intentions blog where I fully had expected to do just that over a weekend. It just never happened.
I slept a lot, read books and didn’t do much. I ate more than normal, food cravings were off the chart and I was cooking all kinds of comfort food. Drinking more each night to just get to sleep. I bought my yearly detox – started it and stopped after a day. Nope, couldn’t do that either. Need comfort food and drink more than a detox was the thought at the time. Friend grief fog had enshrouded me.
I knew I was in real grief funk when I discovered most of January was gone and I still had zero interest in 2021. I was a bit concerned about my health both physically and mentally. I just couldn’t seem to get it together. I could think about eating healthy but had zero motivation to do so. I could stop drinking a day or so but then I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to do my planning day but sleep and rest seemed more important. I just wasn’t feeling like doing anything. I worked and showed up to coach my clients the best I could. I just didn’t’ feel like doing anything else. Nothing held interest for me.
January is a hard month for many as it’s gray and cold. Post-holiday blahs hit. They say the 3rd Monday in Jan. is known a blue Monday. I understand this better now than ever before. The entire month was blue, cold, rainy and gray. Friend grief fog month for me.
Resiliency in Grief
I knew I needed some processing time and something to help me move forward.
For me a trip to the coast or beach with salt air and sand is my therapy. I was hopeful that would help and move me into feeling more like bouncing back and moving forward.
God has a sense of humor - I had booked a long weekend at the Texas coast in Dec. for myself in my motorhome but had to postpone that trip for a colonoscopy. I had moved it to the January MLK weekend. Now wondered if I could even drive my motor home myself to the coast with my broken wrist and stupid cast. Would I be able to hook up the motorhome and drive 3.5 hours? Could I do it? I wasn’t sure, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go or do it. Felt like too much. Friend grief fog funk.
I decided I really needed to walk my talk and do something. I craved alone time to process my grief and see if I could find a plan for 2021 and take steps to move forward. I went ahead and took the trip to the coast. The drive was okay and the salt air and sun just want I needed. I found solitude, cried, walked in the sun and sand a lot. I even got out my planner and worked through planning and visioning 2021.
The trip helped, I was able to go and rest and grieve. I realized that grief has settled into the unwanted house guest again. Deeper than I knew and I hadn’t taken the time to process all of the losses of 2020 nor all of my sadness. I returned rested and with a 2021 plan started.
It took another week to really engage in taking action with my plan. I’m doing the yearly 28day detox, stop drinking, and start exercising regularly again. I have a plan and some trips on the calendar.
Here we are in the 2nd week of February and I finally feel like I might be moving forward and the fog is lifting. It’s been much slower than I planned nor intended.
I still have my tearful moments. I still wonder, how can it be she’s gone, she’s my age. Why God, Why? I catch myself thinking oh, I’ll…wait Sue & I… no can’t do that. Damn. Damn grief.
Friend grief fog is real. I never really understood the depth or breadth of it until now.
Have you experienced friend grief fog? How did you move through it?
If you’d like to learn more or need resources please see below.
Teresa – Forging ahead through the grief fog and leaning into my resiliency skills.
Teresa Q. Bitner, M.Ed., PMP, ACC - Resiliency, Change and Loss Coach
Partnering with those who have been knocked down my life and want to build resiliency and move forward and live a bold life.
Author of Soul Love: How A Dog Taught Me to Breathe Again
PS. Looking to bounce back in 2021?
I have a few client openings at this time. I’d be honored to partner with you to help you bounce back and move forward. I still offer 30min laser coaching at a pay from the heart price. You pay me after we’re complete for each session based on the value you receive. Looking for more in depth coaching - I offer multiple services to meet you where you are.
3 Radio show interviews where I share my grief story:
1. Overcoming the Tsunami of Grief – Am I Going Crazy?
2. Confronting my Loss And Accepting my Life Has Changed?
3. Finding Your New Normal After The Loss of a Loved One.
Resiliency and Grief resources
Grieving 2020 & the Pandemic https://www.boldfulfilledlifecoach.com/grieving-2020.html