Grieving What Could Have Been

It’s been said that grief is like walking in the ocean. Sometimes you’re facing the waves and can brace yourself when you see a big one taking shape. But sometimes you’re walking along, and a wave comes from behind and knocks you off your feet.

Many people we talk to here at Krause Funeral Homes in Milwaukee, New Berlin, and Brookfield can relate to this illustration. Certainly, they expect to mourn after someone they love dies. But grief is more complicated than most people expect.

There are physical effects – stomachaches, dizziness, lethargy. There are unexpected triggers, reactions, and emotions, much like waves that seem to come out of nowhere. There are layers of loss that reveal themselves over time, like letting go of expectations, dreams, and the “what could have been” expectations we all have for the future.

When Life Doesn’t go as Planned

Our Krause team has heard from husbands and wives who are facing the painful reality that their marriage won’t be what they envisioned. Their spouse’s death also puts to death their plans down the road – for coffee on the porch together during retirement, travel, and leisure time with family.

The loss of a child is another extremely traumatic example, as the hopes many parents have for their son or daughter will never be realized.

Sometimes people are waiting on an apology or acceptance from a family member or acknowledgement of pain that was caused over the years – and a death means this will never materialize.

How can those who are grieving acknowledge their pain, their unmet expectations, and unrealized dreams, accept their new reality, and move toward healing?

Here’s our advice for learning to accept loss.

Lean on family and compassionate friends. If they too knew your loved one who died, they will have grief all their own – and can relate to your sorrow. Sharing memories and stories with one another and talking directly about the person who died are all helpful ways to mourn. This is also why having a funeral is so important, as it gives everyone an opportunity to gather, cry, talk, and mourn.

Talk to a trusted professional. Consider speaking with a counselor or someone else experienced in grief support, such as a pastor, priest, or rabbi. With strong ties to our Milwaukee community, Krause also has the most comprehensive list of current grief support groups for Southeastern Wisconsin. We have organized them by location (city or county) and needs (i.e. young widower, suicide, Alzheimer’s, etc.).

Take care not to isolate yourself. It might seem easier to stay home from a party, skip church, or avoid places where you know you’ll run into friends or neighbors. While it’s okay to allow yourself some solitude, try to find a balance.

Look after your physical health. After a loss, many people struggle with stress that may result in physical illness. From not eating well (overeating, undereating, eating convenience foods) to letting exercise go to sleeping too much or too little . . . it’s easy to allow unhealthy habits to creep in while grieving. If friends and family offer assistance, companionship, even a home-cooked meal, say yes. It’s good for you and for them.

Ask for help. If you’re feeling “stuck” in your grief, don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones to get the support you need. Our professional staff at Krause is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Stop by our funeral homes in Milwaukee, Brookfield, and New Berlin or call us at (414) 982-1355. We’re always here for our friends and neighbors.

Even if we didn’t serve your family, our grief resources are available to you. You can access our list of local partners that specialize in grief and loss, and if you need immediate help, be sure to check out our interactive, online grief support program.

When a death occurs, life changes forever. There will be hard days, obstacles, and setbacks. But please remember that you are never alone. Those who mourn and heal can move on to live and fully love again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *