Last week we talked about what to say and more importantly, what not to say to people who are grieving and this week I would like to talk about something that I have Googled. On more than one occasion since November when Tess died.

And that is “what is a grief timeline”. It’s a very unsatisfying Googleable answer. So let’s talk about it.

Transcript:

Tami: [00:00:00] Hi, Michelle. What’s up grief, bestie. How are you doing? Just 

Michelle: [00:00:06] griefing it out over here, 

Tami: [00:00:07] right on. Okay. So last week we talked about what to say and more importantly, what not to say to people who are grieving and this week I would like to talk about something that I have Googled. On more than one occasion since November when test died.

And that is what is a grief timeline. It’s a very unsatisfying Googleable answer. So Michelle, when you Google, have you ever Googled this? Let’s start there. Have you ever Googled what’s the grief timeline? I don’t 

Michelle: [00:00:35] think I’ve ever Googled it probably for the same reason. I’ve never Googled Sasquatch 

Tami: [00:00:41] because you don’t believe in it.

Because it does 

Michelle: [00:00:43] exist. I don’t think it exists. 

Tami: [00:00:46] Now. I’m going to let you know when you Google it all the nice people, the internet agree with. Yeah, it doesn’t exist 

Michelle: [00:00:54] probably believe in scout in Sasquatch more than I believe in. There is a big foot. There is not a grief timeline. 

Tami: [00:01:01] Yeah. That’s what I’m kind of coming to understand.

I mean, at least Sasquatch has like postcards and shit. There’s more, but like the universal truth, they’re like, okay, you guys, this world’s shortest podcast episode. We’re like grief timeline. There is not one. So, I will tell you the reason why I was Googling it at one time, because I was like, You know, we’re living in pandemic times.

So I was feeling like it had been longer. I felt like there had been more time that had passed since she died and that day, and it turned out to had been like three months. It was like, okay, well you just need to get your calendar fixed. Of course you’re not quote over it in three months, but here’s the thing.

I did Google it more than once. And the reason I say that is because I was like, well, but you know, the last time I Googled it, they said there wasn’t one. And then what if there’s new research? And then I left and there wasn’t, but what is the deal with the anniversary? Oh, if you get through the first year and right.

I found for myself, I was like, well, I grieved really well. The first year my mom died at the end of that year, I was hoping that she would come back. Cause I got an a plus in grieving dear listeners, they don’t come no matter how well you grieve. So what’s the deal with the anniversaries and the it’s been a year.

It’s been five years. Since there’s no timeline, why it feels like people are rushing us. 

Michelle: [00:02:31] Yeah, well, and we’re rushing ourselves 

Tami: [00:02:34] because those people, those are the people I meant too. Those are the people, the calls coming inside, the house, the inside people are like for fuck’s sake. Why 

Michelle: [00:02:43] are you not 

Tami: [00:02:43] over this tragedy?

This trauma, the surprise. And and then sometimes people on the outside are like, you’re making me uncomfortable. Like still being sad. 

Michelle: [00:02:56] So. Yeah, everybody wants us to move on because it’s hard. It’s so hard. It hurts. It’s hard. We don’t want to. Be in suffering, you know, especially if it really is still just a big part of our lives for what feels like a really long time.

And let’s also just clarify that sort of, like you said, a number of months can feel in grief time. 

Tami: [00:03:24] Forever. It’s like dog ears. 

Michelle: [00:03:27] It is it’s dog ears on slow-mo. Yeah. So, it can, you know, months feel like years and it just, I don’t want to be here anymore. Shouldn’t this be better? I don’t want to feel this way.

Those are all really common things to feel. And then here we are with a reminder that there’s no, should there’s no, I should feel better. Hasn’t it been long enough. There’s just, there’s no instruction manual. There’s no timeline. There’s no, this is how it works. It’s just different for everybody.

We all have our process and unfortunately we just have to have grace with ourselves. I mean, that’s not unfortunate, but some grace. There 

Tami: [00:04:13] are so many fortunate. If you want to, if you want a concrete answer, if you’re into wiggly kind of uncertainty rolling with the punches, you’d be like, dude. Totally.

But if you’re impatient and you’re like, if you could give me a checklist of what’s going to happen. Cause remember a few episodes ago, we were like, there’s no timeline and there’s no stages. So we’re just going to add to more of the ambiguity. 

Michelle: [00:04:38] Yeah, they, these definitely go together. You know, I want to track the stages so that I know when my end, where’s the gold star moment at the end when I know that I’m done.

And so you brought up anniversaries. I mean, I think this is a big part of why the grieving doesn’t end Let’s say I’ll use my cell phone as an example. So for me, it’s been, and I’m using the baby loss. So it’s been six years in January since he died. And it’s been six years, this June from when he was due.

And so. It’s just different every year. And it’s really common for the second year. Maybe even the third year to be a little bit harder than the first year, because the first year we are just trying to get through, we’re just trying to learn this new normal everything is different. We’re kind of expecting it in a way to be hard, but then we get to year two.

And we’re like I’m sorry. I thought that I was going to be done. I thought that my grieving was over. And now here I am in year two. Maybe I’m not as prepared to feel all of these things. Maybe I’m not. Prepared for the anniversaries that can come up. And so we have maybe death or birth anniversary.

So someone’s birthday. We have different anniversaries of this is the last time I saw them or this is the last time I got to do this thing. Or this is the day I got the diagnosis. You know, we have we tend to remember. All of those dates, right? This is the day I got the phone call. This was the date of the appointment.

So these become these markers that even if you’re not totally conscious of it, somewhere in your body, I had the experience that my body was always really aware of. Upcoming anniversaries. And then I would look at the African, like what is going on? And then I would look at the count. Oh, okay. Wow. This date is coming up.

And you know, of course I’ve been more irritable or of course I have this physical thing going on. You know, some part of me remembers it’s we can almost even feel it in the seasons, so that can become another trigger. Oh, it’s spring was when. This happened. So there are all kinds of things that can just take us right back into those feelings.

And I’m talking about the big things, but that’s not even to mention, you know, you’re at the store and. Piped through the speakers, you know, your song comes on or the little things that can happen randomly like that as well. So over time you might be I don’t like the word better. You might be feeling more integrated.

More connected to your life. And then one of these little, I call them ambushes. One of these little ambushes pops out from behind the Bush and you just feel totally caught off guard. And then you feel like you’re right back in it. And those moments can actually feel like, Ooh, no kidding. Any better. It’s still so awful.

Well. Yeah, of course, it’s going to ebb and flow. But over the course of years at a time, there probably is more integration overall. Then you might be acknowledging in the hard moments. That was a fairly long, 

Tami: [00:08:09] that was a very long answer. It was a very thorough answer. And so I have some things to say, and I will say.

If you had asked me, so it’s, we’re recording this in April, 2021. If you had asked me in April of 2015 a month after my mom died, I would be like, hell no, I’m never going to feel better. Hell no, nothing ever good is going to happen. Hell no, I’m going to be the walking dead insomnia, terrible symptoms. But those things lessened over time.

Do I miss my mom less? I don’t but can, but have I integrated, have I continued our bond? Yes. Have I continued my relationship with her, even though she is no longer here. Yes. And people might be wondering that is, I talked to my mom, I write her letters. I celebrate her birthday. We discussed that in our previous episode.

I dream about my people. Like I dream about my deceased people a lot. And sometimes the dreams are so comforting. It feels like a visit. And sometimes they’re overwrought with well, there is usually a point in the dream where I’m like, you know, everybody thinks you’re dead. Right. I, there’s almost always that question because I’m always like, so are we having a moment?

But yeah. So it’s just, it feels less intense over time for me. And you know, but it could be like a song. It can be a smell. Yeah. Or a snippet of a memory, or I remember what I was wearing when I found out what tests, when tests died. And every time I see that sweater, I’m like, and it was the first time I had worn a piece of clothing and I’m like, Oh shit, am I ever going to wear that without thinking that?

Or am I, or is that just going to be the, every time I wear that sweater? Or should I just retire it? I don’t know. Is that sweater jinxed? Anyway, so all right, friends, that was our timeline talk. Yeah, it gets different 

Michelle: [00:10:09] is what it does. It gets different. And. I think it is really sticky, especially when other people, when you don’t have someone in your life who can.

Remind you when we have these should thoughts for ourselves, it’s great to have an outside source, a therapist, a book, a podcast, something that you can go to, a friend. Yes. Well friends like us to remind you I know sweetheart, there, there is no timeline. Like this is it. And just be that 

Tami: [00:10:42] steak.

It just happened. It, well, it 

Michelle: [00:10:45] just happened is the great response to anything, whether it’s been three days, three months or three years, it just happened. That’s always a 

Tami: [00:10:53] great response. My favorite response, because I’m like in the big scheme of things, it did just happen. Right. Right. It hasn’t been a decade.

It’s been half a little bit more than half a decade for our big, significant losses, right? Yeah. Yep. And then I just realized it’s been five months since tests died. I’m like, did I say five millennium? What is happening? Like how is it only five months? I mean, we’re, I’m already having those texting conversations with friends about okay, well it’s time for her to come back because we’ve had just about enough of this bullshit of grieving and mourning and we’ve been doing it well, we’ve held up our end of the bargain.

Okay. Now you can come back jokes over ha come back from your tropical vacation that you didn’t tell anyone you were going on. Right. Kind of weird. The bugged out like that. 

Michelle: [00:11:43] Well, and I it’s, I think it asks a lot of us, which again, we can lean on our supports for, but when we have those external sources that are saying like, well, don’t you think it’s been enough time?

Or, you know, maybe well-meaning maybe just. Awkwardly uncomfortable in themselves, but when we have those voices that’s a little harder. And so I just want to really plant the permission for people to. Disregard. If anyone gives you a should of any kind, don’t let people shut on you and go back to your own supports and treat yourself as your own dear friend.

And you know, just don’t listen to that 

Tami: [00:12:29] BS. Yeah. Recently, one of my grief friends said she knew we were going to be friends. We met in a grief support group and she said, we. Well, she knew we were going to be friends because somebody was relaying a message in the group about that somebody had given them a shed.

And my response was clearly, they just don’t have enough dead people in their life. Like they don’t have dead people close enough to them when it’s their turn, they’ll understand this. And my grief friend was like, Oh my God, yes. It’s you don’t want to be part of this club, but when you become part of the club, just be in the club.

And if you’re getting those sheds from people. It’s okay to be like Somebody called it bean dipping. There was this thing, which is people ask you or give you unsolicited advice and you say, ah, thank you. Would you like some bean dip? As in like I’m changing the subject now that’s amazing for that country.

Would you like some hummus? 

Michelle: [00:13:25] Could I ever using Pellegrino. 

Tami: [00:13:27] Right. Like how is your, how are your words, Bob? I don’t like, and she’s we don’t have to take in. What we’re trying to get the message through is that you’re not weird if years later you’re still like on the anniversary of something, or when you hear a particular song in a certain way, in a certain place, or somebody walks by you and they’re wearing a perfume that you haven’t smelled since that day, you’re not a fucking weirdo, right?

Like we have all these memories inside us and I’m not making out with my grief or my morning. I’m just letting it live peacefully next to me. Yeah. And within me 

Michelle: [00:14:05] that’s 

the 

Tami: [00:14:06] ticket. Yeah. And I don’t know, I was going to say, I don’t know who this person is, this person that said that is because, you know, I like to control things or think I can but what I’ve learned through all of the millions of times, I’ve lost things and people and events is I just got to let it Got to let it run its course and got to let it, I’m trying to observe what’s happening with my grief in my morning, instead of trying to make it something it is or isn’t because I don’t want to fight with it.

Michelle: [00:14:40] No, it’s like shadow boxing. There’s nothing to fight with and we just wear ourselves 

Tami: [00:14:45] out. Yeah. I was thinking of trying to put toothpaste back in the two, but yes. Shadowboxing, it’s yeah. I mean, you totally, you could, but you’re just going to get messy doing that. Yeah. And feel like an 

Michelle: [00:15:01] idiot total.

What am I going crazy? Yeah, please 

Tami: [00:15:05] don’t do that. Don’t try to put the toothpaste back in the tube. It’s okay. Just chill. Yeah, and that 

Michelle: [00:15:12] this is much harder in actuality, in real time than it is for us to talk about. So we just stay with our supports, get your reminders when you need them, take a care of yourself.

Tami: [00:15:24] And everyone’s favorite be kind to yourself, like practice that self-compassion and if you have to think I’m the worst. Oh, probably not. And then you think no one else is going through this now, you know, me and Michelle are going through it. So like that arguments shot. Right. And so it’s like grief and mourning.

It’s one of those things that like, we would like to control it, but. As Michelle said, you’re just going to get tired of boxing a thing that’s not really there. Yeah. And you could better use your energy and you’re going to harness your energy in a different way, which is like maybe practice some self-forgiveness definitely some self-compassion.

What are some other things that people can do throw away the script about how things should be. 

Michelle: [00:16:15] Go for a walk. I mean, I know it sounds sort of trite, but it’s walking is such a great thing because it does mobilize your body. It changes your perspective. You’re out, you’re seeing different things. You’re in nature.

Even if you’re in a really urban city, you know, you can look at the trees, you can they probably have to lips somewhere like just to be outside. Really does make more space for. Whatever’s going on with you and that mobilization and the perspective change. Those three things can be really helpful.

Tami: [00:16:51] Right? And if you can’t get outside, hop in the shower, if you can’t get in nature, looking at pictures of nature has a lot of the same benefits is actually being in it when I’m like. What kind of crazy world do we live in that we’re like, so is, was on the internet. And I was looking at all the plant profiles on Instagram and I felt so much better.

Buy yourself a house plan, start an herb garden. Yeah. Right. Friend, 

Michelle: [00:17:17] call a call. Call us a part of right friend. Yes.

Tami: [00:17:23] Yes. Yeah. We were going to be meeting like applications for grief friends. Do you believe in the grief timeline? If you check? Yes, I will be checking, right. That’s no, thank you. And the questionnaire here. Exactly. Thank you. Your service is not needed. It’s like jury duty, right? I think 

Michelle: [00:17:45] not a bad idea.

Yeah. It might also be worth. Saying, just to name that if someone feels like they’re process through loss just happens to move more quickly, but that’s also not a bad, that doesn’t mean that you’re wrong or you’re heartless or you know, you’re not doing it right. You missed something. I mean, if you’re completely trying to avoid it and.

Pretend it’s not there and dive into your work or, you know, whatever avoidance tactics that we use. That’s a little different, but if you’re like no, I’m here. I’m with it. I, you know, I feel what happened and. In however long, who knows, however long, that seems short to you. You’re like, well, I don’t know.

I really feel okay. And I, yeah, I’ve, you know, have some sad moments, but in general, I’m just kind of trucking along and I’m back engaged in relationships and I am wearing my favorite clothes and whatever. You’re just really feeling like yourself. That’s okay, too. That doesn’t mean that you didn’t do it 

Tami: [00:18:49] right.

Totally. Can we talk on one more new thing that we talk about it in the new normal, and that is the new identity that we forge after we’ve lost someone like after my mom died, I was like, Oh, so I’m a new person in this world. Without that. My mom’s name was Sandy. So I, if I’m not Sandy’s daughter in this realm, What does that mean?

Who is, who am I as a person? If I’m still test as best friend, but test is no longer here. Who am I? And how do I function in this world? So if you’re wondering like, well, I don’t have a grief timeline to ponder. These are some things that your new identities you could think about that. Like how are you in this world now in this new way?

Yup. 

Michelle: [00:19:38] Yeah. And meaning making is a big thing that can come in here. You don’t have to make meaning of it ever or right away, but that might be something that feels natural to yeah. What does this mean? What does this mean about me? What does this mean? For how I go forward. What does this mean for who I am and my family, or how people see me and this can come up with things like retirement, because that’s really tied into identity or change of city or job 

Tami: [00:20:10] getting fired.

Right. Because those are things like when there’s a sudden death or you get fired like that, shit’s out of your control. So you’re, and you’re talk about ambush. You didn’t see it coming. Yeah. 

Michelle: [00:20:25] Yeah. And not to make me meaning making meaning doesn’t mean getting it wrapped up into a big story about how awful you are.

Tami: [00:20:35] It also doesn’t mean that you have to become a greater person because you have this loss. That’s fair. It’s also that well, my best friend died. So now I’m this, I’m like I’m just mad that she’s gone, 

Michelle: [00:20:47] right. That’s right. You don’t need to have some huge epiphany. And you know, now you’re going to be the best friend to all your remaining friends and you’re going to start a.

Non-profit and whatever 

Tami: [00:21:03] right. Unless you want to do that, in which case, knock yourself out. I’m not that gal I’m going to be pissed that she’s gone for awhile. Yeah. Yeah. So in other words, what, so what’s the big message here. What’s the big takeaway. You’re not doing it wrong. You’re 

Michelle: [00:21:19] not doing it wrong.

Whatever you’re doing, you’re not doing 

Tami: [00:21:23] it wrong. Okay. And there’s a good chance. At least one person that you know, will tell you’re fucking doing it wrong. It could be, your mom could be the priest. It could be your next door neighbor. It could be the widow in your support group, somebody at some point.

So if you’re hearing this and no one has been that jerk to you yet and told you what you should be doing cool. But if at some point somebody does come to this episode and be like, ah, that’s them, not me. I guess that’s the takeaway too. There’s no timeline. And it’s them not, you like it, it says more about other people’s discomfort yes.

Than our own, where we are. 

Michelle: [00:22:10] Yes. Remember, we don’t tend to do well with death and loss and change. And especially if you have, if it’s your close in people you know, if the grocery store clerk is shitting on you, then. That can happen too, but if it’s your close in people and let’s say those people, aren’t great at being there for you at being compassionate at having a broad perspective in normal times, they are certainly not going to be able to do it in crisis.

Tami: [00:22:46] You don’t have to give those people up necessarily. You might just have to. Put in your mind, like a Snapchat filter on them. And so when they talk, they have no Sears mouse, ears, or dog ears, or a big dog tongue that rolls out and you just kind of giggle like, Oh, look, the dog is talking again. Yeah.

Yeah. And have that mindset of like, when the dog talks I’m mildly amused, it doesn’t matter what the dog says. If the dog starts talking, you’re like, Oh, that’s kind of funny. I not going to take advice from a dog. That’s ridiculous. I mean, it was so tell me about dog things. 

Michelle: [00:23:26] That’s amazing. I always think about Charlie Brown.

Didn’t the adults. In the Charlie Brown, they had like 

Tami: [00:23:34] really 

Michelle: [00:23:34] good at that. I do that sometimes. I can’t say with him, but I know I do. I do that. Sometimes I 

Tami: [00:23:42] Snapchat filter people in my mind. 

Michelle: [00:23:44] That’s just all I hear right now. I think they’re words, but I can’t hear those. The other like kind of practical thing, if you do have people like that in your lives.

Is to set your expectations to zero, to 

Tami: [00:24:01] just 

Michelle: [00:24:04] zero like even write it down. I’m setting my expectations. If you’re going to go to an event or something, you know, you’re going to have some interaction. I’m. I am setting my expectation to zero because it is harder to be disappointed if we don’t have that expectation.

And it’s hard not to have any, but if you focus on that, right, that I’m setting my expectations to zero. And I’m just feeling realistic that, you know, I know this person has a difficult time with this, or is probably going to say something ridiculous. And so I’m going to see them with the dog years. I’m going to hear their voice.

Well, it can be easier. 

Tami: [00:24:43] The ways that I also go into difficult situations and what is difficult after loss everything an old friend gave me this tool to take with me when I was doing hard stuff like caregiving, an elderly relative. And that was to go into any situation and look for it’s either going to be fun or funny.

Right. And I don’t know if you’ve heard, but caregiving for elderly people who are on their way out. Not really fun, but you can make things funny and it might be you imagining that grumpy person with their filter face. Maybe they’re a Fox this time, maybe an elephant is telling you some silly thing.

A chicken. A chicken, but D but at the idea is that we don’t have to let other people’s expectation. Cloud are already super chow brain where I’m like, am I doing this wrong? Okay, wait, I need to reevaluate. Am I taking advice from that person? Why am I doing that? My defense is there down. I can see that.

Cause I would never take that person seriously in regular life. So why am I doing it now? At perhaps the most important time in my life. Yeah. So the big takeaway kindness for yourself. And I think that we can encompass the rest of it with just having some boundaries, whether it be physical boundaries or verbal boundaries, or I made a rubber, you’re made a glue bounces off me, sticks to you, Snapchat filters and And do you go easy on yourself?

Because this is hard. Yeah. Yeah. All right friends. That’s what we have right now. We’re going to come back next week with one of the things that has really been hard for me, that it was so hard for me. I actually wrote a guide and that is what to do in grief and mourning when you’re not religious and don’t have any religious background or foreground or.

Community because wow. Death has seeped in religious tradition. So until next week, remember that you matter too. No.

 

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