How you should feel

“I don’t know how I should feel.”

“I should be over this by now.”

“I shouldn’t be feeling this way.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the above statements from clients, friends, and even myself. We seem to think there is a right and wrong way to feel – about a breakup, about a loved one dying, about not getting hired, etc.

I personally just experienced grief and the basket full of confusingly unrelated emotions that comes with it. My grandmother passed away earlier this year, and I felt it all:

Shock. We were supposed to have more time with her. This can’t be happening.

Relief. Her suffering has ended and she was truly at peace with death & her belief that she would be reunited with her husband.

Sadness. I miss her. I miss her voice and her mannerisms and her cooking.

Loss. I won’t receive another entertaining Christmas letter from her, or be able to tell her about a new recipe I tried or new plant in my garden.

Joy. Being all together with all of my cousins one last time in her incredible, magical house is special beyond words. And this wine isn’t too bad either.

Awkward. We are dispersing her things. This feels weird.

Heart-breaking. It’s really hard to watch my mom say goodbye to her mom.

Nostalgic. Sit in that window seat again, remember summer afternoons reading Nancy Drews and Agatha Christies. Remember sitting in that seat receiving a call with your first post-college job offer. Smell that kitchen again, remember learning to make chocolate mousse with your best friend in middle school. Remember the last lunch you had in this kitchen with your grandparents and the sandwich your grandfather made. Walk on that flagstone path again, remember running it with bare feet as a kid, smelling the lavender and avoiding the bees.

Surprise. There were a lot of treasures in this house we had no idea about!

Ugly cry. Burying someone you love is one of the hardest things in life.

Connection. I still feel her spirit when I’m in the kitchen or out in the garden, doing the things she loved.

There isn’t one right way to feel about something. You feel the way(s) you feel. The bigger the situation, the more feelings involved. It’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t stuff your feelings away because you think you should be over this right now, or that only one kind of emotion is appropriate in this situation.

Ok, we don’t necessarily always want to be sobbing in the grocery store (although if you did it, I wouldn’t judge), so if you feel inclined to save it until you get in the car and want to blast that song that always makes you cry (come on, you know the one), just do it. If you are totally angry, go on a walk, scream in your car, beat up a pillow until there are feathers flying. If you’re being suffocated by stress, call up your best friend (the same one you’d call to help you unclog the toilet you just clogged, you know the one), let it all out, and let her be there for you.

So one more time: there is no way you “should” feel. You feel the way you’re feeling. Channel it in a healthy & appropriate way (I’m not condoning the harming of yourself or others, or any property you don’t own). Give yourself a break. Being a human is tough sometimes.

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I am Samantha Siffring.

I help moms build wildly successful online businesses.