The tears gushed out suddenly when I passed the cream cheese in the supermarket aisle. It was so poignant, seeing this cheese, which I no longer needed to buy, and yet which had been one of the few foods that Philip could eat in his last months. I turned round and headed back out to the safety of the car in the carpark, where I could more easily let the tears just flow.
This is a Grief Ambush. It feels exactly like that – you’ve suddenly, with no warning, been taken over by grief. It might not be tears, you can just as easily be ambushed by rage, fear or just plain old sadness. It feels as if it will never end. What to do?
If you’re out and about, the car probably is the safest place to go until the ambush ends. Fortunately, the very nature of a Grief Ambush is that it tends to arrive suddenly, but can depart very quickly too, especially if you can allow yourself to feel the feelings. So that’s the first and most important thing – let those feelings out if you can.
And this is why it’s a great idea to have your own transport wherever you’re going, because then you can leave whenever you want to. Otherwise you need to let whoever you are with know that these ambushes can happen at any time, and that you might need to just disappear for a bit. If you can show you are OK with them, your friends will be too.
Ambushes might happen daily for quite a while, so prepare for them.
- Know how you will cope (go to the car, tell whoever you’re with you need a few moments alone)
- Don’t judge yourself for having them – they are an entirely normal function of grief
- Be kind and tender to yourself after the storm has passed. If this means changing your plans, so be it. Or have a cup of tea, or take a little walk alone.
The length of time between the ambushes happening will get longer and longer. This is a mark of you moving forward.