Thinking Out Loud: If this is you, oops ... you are normal

John T. Catrett III
ONHL Hospice Chaplain

So often when we are grieving we can feel as if we're far from normal. We might be doing things and saying things which friends and family think are downright odd and worrying. This not only adds to our sense of aloneness, but it also plants a seed of doubt in our mind - maybe we are crazy after all.

It can be so very reassuring to know you are not the only one. It is so very painful to feel that no one understands. It makes us feel utterly alone and extremely vulnerable, as if something is wrong with us, when in actual fact our feelings are very normal. It's perfectly normal for someone whose heart feels as though it has been ripped out of his or her body and aches to hold his or her loved once again. See if this is you:

1. Out of the blue you smell them; it's so 'them' it's as if they were present.

2. The pain is so bad you don't think you can go on.

3. The only way you can fall asleep is in front of the TV.

4. You are so angry with everyone - even at him or her for leaving you.

5. You think you've done something wrong because your friends don't come around or contact you anymore.

6. You feel so anxious you have trouble leaving the house.

7. You get excited about signs - butterflies, coins etc.

8. You feel stupid when you share it with someone who doesn't understand.

9. You can't remember how to do things you've done hundreds of times before.

10. You can't bear to wash that t- shirt, that sheet, or that special toy.

11. You're dreading the holidays while everyone else is excited.

12. You find it hard to be around people who have what you have lost; it hurts so much.

13. You are fiercely possessive of their things.

14. You think you will never stop crying.

15. You have no interest in anything - you're on autopilot.

16. If someone asks you what you're doing next week, you can't even comprehend next week; you exist one minute, one hour at a time.

17. You talk to them everyday.

18. You are sure you hear them sometimes.

19. You kiss and hug their photos.

20. You follow someone down the street because you are convinced it is he or she.

21. You're thinking about the wedding anniversary months ahead.

22. You never go to the cemetery.

23. You're at the cemetery every day.

24. You panic when you realize you can't remember their face.

25. Your death no longer worries you because you get to see them again.

26. You call their phone and hope for just a moment they'll answer.

27. If anyone else asks you how you are, you think you'll scream.

28. You hope it's a bad dream that you'll wake up from soon.

29. Everything is exactly as it was in their room.

30. You think your family is from another planet; their grief is so different from yours.

31. You don't feel safe when you drive the car anymore because your brain is in a fog.

32. You remember the time, the day, the week, and the year of their death totally and absolutely.

33. You worry yourself sick about your family now.

34. You so wish someone could understand.

Yes, you are normal if one or all of these things have happened to you! You have lost someone very special and precious to you, and it hurts! But over time with the help of family, friends and possibly some professional help (such as a grief counselor, minister, priest or hospice chaplain) the hurt will lessen and we will get on with life once again.

John T. Catrett III is chaplain for ONHL Hospice. He can be reached at (918) 352-3080 or