When Nothing Feels Right After the Funeral

In the weeks and months after the death of my mother and father (they died in different decades, so there’s that), so much felt infuriating and wrong. I’d go to the grocery store and think, “How can all these people be sniffing produce for freshness when my dad just died?” I’d walk by a park and see kids cracking up or couples holding hands, and their happiness–and oblivion to what I was going through–felt like a slap in the face. My dentist’s office called to remind me that it was time for a cleaning and I wanted to scream, “Who cares about a teeth cleaning when my MOTHER DIED!”

Nothing feels right. Because nothing is right when you’re in the midst of grieving.

If you’re feeling this too right now, let me start by saying, “I see you” and these reactions are normal and don’t make you a bad person. Also, the sharp resentment you may feel about life going back to normal will eventually taper off.

What can you do in the meantime?

For one, name the weirdness out loud. It may not fix matters but it sure feels better to say aloud what’s true for you. 

Think of it like this: It’s as if the whole world turned the color blue for no reason and nobody said a word about it. Wouldn’t it be bizarre to just move through the day not mentioning this radical change? Even if there was nothing anyone could do about it? Asking, “Do you see this blue everywhere?” would at least voice what is true. Some people might ignore you but others would nod in agreement and say “Yes! It’s so weird! I thought it was just me.” That matters. Connection sustains us when we’re alone in our grief.

So how do you start the conversation with other people?

Simply ask family and/or friends, “Is anyone else feeling strange about how life is going back to business as usual?” Or, “Anyone finding it hard to relate to everyone right now who is going about their lives when our family is devastated?” 

For me, asking these kinds of questions led to some poignant and forever-bonding conversations. It made me feel less alone.

Share with your non-grieving friends

When it comes to your friends who have never experienced grief, consider explaining how hard it feels to “fit in” right now and why. They don’t and probably won’t truly get it, but they will down the line because, sadly, grief comes for all of us. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to know.

Talk about how you’re feeling and what would help (a supportive hug, a listening ear.) Assure them you’re not looking for them to stop living their own lives, but that you could use regular check-ins because things are far from “normal” for you, even if they appear that way.

Reach out to your connections who have been through grief. They will likely assure you that your experience is normal, even expected, and that everything won’t stay the same shade of blue forever. 

But for now, that blue sure is all kinds of weird.

Michelle Cove is the Director of Communications at Experience Camps for grieving children. She is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, journalist, and national bestselling author whose projects have been featured on numerous national platforms including “The Today Show,” The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times.