Conflicting Emotions

How are you feeling today? 

This can be such a loaded question for those of us who are grieving. One day we can often barely answer that question without breaking down, but the next day could be good, we may even experience happiness and joy. Then, we start to feel guilty for feeling good. This up and down can create so much confusion between our heart and mind.

What have you done that works to alleviate the stress that comes with these conflicting emotions?

Why the conflict?

Historically, we are taught it’s normal to feel one thing at a time, while this lesson may have been unintentional and harmful it is what is common. There was traditionally no space for conflicting emotions or feelings. You need to feel one thing, but first you need to figure that out. We often make the choice to numb out our feelings with unhealthy coping mechanism. We aren’t here to tell you what is healthy or not, that is your decision, but we wanted to give you a few ideas to help you make a wise choice when it comes to distractions.

If you look back at the things we have discussed, one of them is that feelings are fluid. They come and go like the waves. We can also feel two different emotions at the same time, when we grieve this is especially true. We can feel such anguish in losing our person, but be so grateful they are no longer suffering. Which can cause a lot of confusion and chaos in our heart and mind. It can make us feel ungrounded, flighty and tearful. We have such difficulty trying to get our feelings out because we aren’t really sure which one we feel. 

You are not alone, there are so many difficult things about grief and having these conflicting feelings is one of them. There is no rule that you can’t feel two things, or even three at once. You may want to feel better on your inhale and feel guilty for wanting that in your exhale. 

Grief is such a complex emotion and if you have a complex relationship with the person that you lost, it can intensify.

Ambivalence can be caused by a strained relationship with the person that you lost, whether you weren’t able to mend the relationship or had no desire to mend it. This feeling is a very normal part of grief. There is nothing sunshine and rainbows about this very real piece of losing someone, we want to be inclusive and understanding of everyone’s grief and that includes the loss of someone that you had a difficult relationship with.

  • Remember ambivalence is a natural part of the grieving process.
  • Allow space in your mind for the conflicting thoughts, and know that this is ok.
  • Talk openly about your thoughts with someone who you know can listen. Remember that thoughts are only thoughts, they do not always equate to truth, and you are not a bad person for simply having them.
  • Remember ambivalent feelings or thoughts you might be embarrassed or ashamed about, do not take away from the positive qualities you remember about the person.

You don’t have to make sense of what you are feeling. Your brain is just doing its best to protect you, its primary goal is to keep you safe.

 So remember next time you are struggling with conflicting feelings, it is perfectly normal and acceptable to feel both of the things you are feeling, we encourage you to sit with your conflicting feelings. You can write them out in your journal, talk to a trusted friend about them.

Remember we are here to support you in any way that we can!

-The Retreat Bereavement Team

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