During the warmer months of the year, many people/families spend time together doing outdoor activities, such as picnics, fishing, walking, biking, camping, etc. When a person/family has experienced the death of a loved one, they may not have the energy to participate in these activities or they may feel unable to participate in these activities without their loved one. This leaves the griever feeling disconnected…from the activities they have enjoyed and sometimes from the people that they did these activities with, in the past. In effect the griever is grieving the death of their loved one and also grieving the loss of activities they enjoyed. This may cause a sudden burst of accentuated grief, called a grief burst. Often this catches the person off guard, as it is unexpected and the intensity of the grief can feel overwhelming compared to how they had been feeling.
A grief burst is a burst of sadness and sorrow which may be triggered by a variety of things (a song, a picture, seeing someone doing an activity you did with your loved one, a memory, etc.). When experiencing a grief burst, you may have an overwhelming feeling of sadness or feel as though you are moving very slowly through a thick fog. You may have an overwhelming need to cry.
Grief bursts are normal. Most people don’t like them…but they are normal. The hard part is that a grief burst is unexpected and not predictable. A person is not able to control when and if one happens. One minute you are doing fine and the next minute you can feel just like you felt right after your loved one died. This leaves the person feeling sad and confused.
There are things you can do to improve your mood and your ability to cope with your grief and also with grief bursts. Research has shown that most grieving people cope better when they get physical exercise on a regular basis. The warmer days provide a great opportunity for you to do some form of exercise. It may just be a short walk in the sunshine with your dog or it might be taking a bike ride by yourself. Research has also shown that people who get exposure to sunshine show improvement in their mood. If possible, try to get some physical exercise each day and spend time in the sunshine.
Grief bursts will happen and it helps to know they are normal. When one happens, give yourself permission to lean into the grief, feel what you feel and allow it to pass. Do not be alarmed by the experience nor feel embarrassed or ashamed. Grieving the death of a loved one is a journey and the path is not always clear or straight.