I lost my parents and then a baby in a 2 year period. Its been 16 months since the baby. I have a hard time functioning, have no sex drive, problems with relationships, am angry ,which is not my normal personality. I feel I should be over it all. I have stayed extremely busy with projects since, even when I wanted to just crawl into a hole- should I have just crawled in ???????? I’m not sure what to do, maybe just writing will help- I’ve kept this bottled up, stiff upper lip and all that!

A: I’m terribly sorry for your losses. The simple answer to your question is a very big and sympathetic “no.”. You have not grieved too long. I’m concerned that you haven’t let yourself grieve enough. You’ve suffered multiple losses. By forcing yourself to function and keep that lip stiff, you may have skipped over important parts of the grieving process.

Please don’t be embarrassed by your grief. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the world to just stop for awhile so you can sit with your feelings. There’s nothing wrong with crawling in a hole for some part of each day if that would give you a place to cry and remember. Different people grieve differently. I hope you can give yourself permission to do whatever you need to. As long as you don’t let it take over your life entirely, it’s okay. When people lose someone who is important in their life, it’s absolutely normal for it to take three to five years to work grief all the way through. Even then it’s not unusual for a smell or a sound or a seemingly trivial event to make us tear up or feel that familiar clutch in the heart.

You didn’t mention whether you have a partner or family members who can share in your grief. Having support is especially important in a time of loss. If you don’t have such people, or if they are feeling as confused as you are, please do consider seeing a counselor for a few sessions (alone or together). A counselor can help you identify ways to express and process your grief and can give you additional support as you heal.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie