I feel the need to write this blog due to the many conversations that I’ve had with people who are grieving. My heart goes out to them for the pain that they are going through. It is tough! It is even made tougher when we are ‘constantly’ trying to put a brave face on, to ‘keep a lid on it’ and to ‘keep it together’.
These are words I’ve heard, I’m sure you have too. They are all understandable. There is nothing more noble than wanting to carry this load, knowing we can, without being crushed underneath or hurting others with our pain.
When we pay attention to the words ‘keep a lid on it’ and ‘keep it together’ we can hear pressure. We can hear tension. Holding this tension there without releasing it, is like carrying a heavy weight in the air and holding it up, in position, without bringing it down. To the point that we know, if we do, there is no way we’ll be able to lift it up again. So we are left stuck between a rock and a hard place, literally!
What happens to that tension when we don’t release it?
It hardens. We harden!
- Physically: we start experiencing physical pain or symptoms in the areas we have tighten hard in order not to feel. Below our chest hardens, making our breath chesty which negatively impacts the entire system.
- Emotionally: We run the danger of becoming unsympathetic to others’ pain. ‘If I can put a lid on it, so can you!!’
- Mentally: we may become rigid and controlling (towards ourselves and others).
I think what we want, instead, in times of loss is the ability to be as strong as a mountain, being able to lift the weight whenever it is needed but also, be as fluid as a river. Letting the emotions, melt down from the inner mountain of our strength. It is possible and necessary in times of grief:
For this to happen, we need to get out of our own way so life can do its thing and help us heal without crumbling.
There are a certain beliefs that seem to be great obstacles to this natural healing:
Grieving is being negative
There has been so much emphasis about being positive that it is starting to take a negative turn! Or maybe the word isn’t the right word in the first place. Positive is the opposite of negative, so if positive is happy and jolly, surely negative is sad and down. But perhaps there is a different way of seeing it. Perhaps the positive that has gotten so much attention has a deeper meaning than happy and jolly. Referring to love, belonging, meaning, intimacy, depth and the real.
If we see positive that way, grieving is the most positive experience. It cannot be anymore real than that or filled with as much love as that. It is true that when we experience loss, all that we loved in the other becomes even more obvious. Our love, in a way, deepens and get highlighted. Grieving is far from being negative, it is an act of love and our heart, can hold the space for it.
That is not to say that in grieving the negative cannot penetrate. Of course it can. When we start blaming ourself for the loss, or holding on to the anger without seeing the other side of it (love) and not wanting to let go of it. This is so different than giving ourself permission to be angry (when we don’t seem to have a choice) and ‘allowing’ it to pass without needing to hold on to it.
Another belief that discourages us to give ourself the space to feel our loss is:
Others don’t want to see me grieve, so I mustn’t.
We may notice their resistance to acknowledge our pain. Their eagerness to put all of this behind and get over this period as quickly as possible so as to have everything back to ‘normal’ again. A normal life that doesn’t include loss, hurt or death. I feel that everyone benefits from seeing the true strength of our spirit. Our ability to manage life and get on with the day to day task and yet, our capacity to feel our hurt which, shows in our ability to have a good cry – without resisting it – when we need to.
I’m sure there are many other reasons and beliefs that stop us from grieving.
Having seen so many people expressing physical pain, panic or anxiety after a loss, I tend to encourage ‘contained’ grieving times/sessions despite the busy-ness of the day to day activities.
It can be called ‘grieving meditation’ that last between 20/60 mins. Perhaps this is a good trick for the mind that is afraid of being swallowed by grief?
If you think, your experience (inability or ability to grieve) can help someone, please leave your comment below, I’m sure other readers will appreciate it too.