For most people, the grief process is a slow one. While you may move through one stage quickly, you may stay for what feels like ages in another. You will often feel like you have made a single step forward only to take several back. When you move in this manner, it can be difficult to know that you are making progress.
If you pay close attention, there are clear signs that you are, indeed, making progress through the grief process. Here are brief explanations of those signs.
20 Signs That You Are Recovering From Grief
1. You know that your loved one is not coming back. You are no longer in a state of denial, and you have stopped trying to bargain for your loved one’s return. You are firmly in touch with reality.
2. Your memories are a mixture of good and bad. In the beginning stages of grief, every thought you had of your loved one made you sad or depressed. Today, you are able to remember the good things and happy times as well. You enjoy talking about shared memories with friends and family.
3. You are comfortable in your solitude. You have moved beyond the place where you felt utterly alone. You can be by yourself without feeling anxious or depressed. This should not be confused with the avoidance of people and social situations. During this stage, you choose to be alone simply because you want to be.
4. You no longer cry while driving. Studies have shown that people moving through the stages of grief often cry when alone in the car. This equates to distracted driving which is dangerous for you and everyone else on the road.
5. You have stopped dreading the holidays. You may not be overly excited about them, but the idea of spending a holiday dinner or other celebration with friends and family doesn’t bring upon a feeling of dread.
6. People no longer seem insensitive or abrasive. When you first lost your loved one, the things that people said unleashed your anger. Now, those same comments don’t seem as insensitive as they did. You are able to take comments at face value.
7. You can give advice to others in your situation. Perhaps someone close to you has lost someone. You are far enough out of your own grief that you can readily offer advice or sit and listen as they describe their own grief.
8. When you turn on the radio, the songs that you hear bring you comfort instead of sorrow. During the first stages of grief, you couldn’t turn on the radio without sobbing. Now, those same songs don’t invoke feelings of deep sadness and depression.
9. You no longer think of your loved one every day. For some people, this can be an alarming realization. You may feel as though you are forgetting that person. In reality, you know that you will never forget. What you are doing is simply giving yourself permission to live your life.
10. You no longer feel guilty about laughing. When your loved one died, you felt guilty when you smiled or laughed at something. It felt like a betrayal of your loved one’s memory. Now, laughing feels good.
11. You have been able to develop a new routine or daily schedule. At first, it felt like you wouldn’t be able to get through a single day on your own. Now, your day is organized in a way that perfectly suits you.
12. Your concentration has returned. You can read a book like you used to or watch a television program. You can sit and focus your attention on a task. Your mind no longer wanders to thoughts of your loved one every moment of the day.
13. You have stopped going to the cemetery every day. The cemetery is no longer the only place that you find comfort. You are comfortable going to the cemetery once a month or perhaps only on holidays and other special occasions.
14. You are thankful for the good things in your life. You are thankful for the people that surround you. After the death of your loved one, these things didn’t seem to matter. Today, you are able to realize that there are positives in your life.
15. New relationships no longer make you feel guilty. At first, finding a new friend was difficult because your loved one would never meet that person. The thought of finding a new partner was unfathomable. Today, you are not only able to establish new relationships, but you work to maintain them.
16. You are in touch with your self-esteem again. You no longer feel meek and afraid. You feel strong and confident. You know that you have special abilities and you are proud of them.
17. You no longer wish for what used to be. You are happy to accept things as they are, and you even look forward to what will be.
18. The holes in your life are being filled. When your loved one died, you felt empty inside. Your life is being filled with other people and activities. You no longer feel like an empty shell.
19. You have diverted the energy that was spent longing for your loved one and put it into new and interesting activities. In fact, you feel as though you have more energy than you have had in quite a while and it feels wonderful.
20. You accept that you had to go through the grieving process, and you acknowledge that your grief changed you as an individual. It made you more compassionate, more understanding, and it made you stronger.
It can be difficult to know when you have made it through the grief process. Sit down with this list and circle the descriptions that apply to you. We think that you will find that you are making a smooth transition into life after grief.
Updated: October 2, 2014