When you find yourself in the whirlwind as a widow or widower, you might wonder what expectations for grief are like or might feel like.

Appropriate Expectations You can Have for yourself in grief

  • You will have trouble thinking (memory, organization and intellectual processing) and making decsions.
  • You may feel like you are going crazy.
  • You may be obsessed with the death and preoccupied with the deceased.
  • You may begin a search for meaning and may question your religion and/or philosophy of life.
  • You may find yourself acting socially in ways that are different from before.
  • You may find yourself having a number of physical reactions.
  • Society will have unrealistic expectations about your mourning and may respond inappropriately to you. ­
  • You may find that there are certain dates, events and stimuli that bring upsurges of grief.
  • Certain experiences later in life may resurrect intense grief for you temporarily.

  • Your grief will take longer than most people think.
  • Your grief will take more energy than you would have ever imagined.
  • Your grief will involve many changes and be continually developing.
  • Your grief will show itself in all spheres of your life: psychological, social and physical.
  • You will grieve for many things both symbolic and tangible, not just the death alone.
  • Your grief will depend upon how you perceive the loss.
  • You· will grieve for what you have lost already and for what you have lost for the future.
  • Your grief will entail mourning not only for the actual person you lost but also for all of the hopes, dreams , and unfulfilled expectations you held for and with that person, and for the needs that will go unmet because of the death.
  • Your grief will involve a wide variety of feelings and reactions, not solely those that are generally thought of as grief such as depression and sadness.
  • You may have a combination of anger and depression, such as irritability, frustration, annoyance or intolerance.
  • You will feel some anger and guilt, or at least some manifestation of these emotions.
  • You may have a lack of self-concern.
  • You may experience grief spasms, acute upsurges of grief that occur suddenly with no warning.

From: “‘GRIEVING: How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies. .. by Theresa A. Rande, Ph.D., 1989.