The word “grief” is traditionally associated with a devastating loss. It is not meant for “little” things. In our culture, we are not encouraged to grieve a lost job or an abandoned relationship. Instead, we are encouraged to get on with it.
How unfair of a directive this is. It completely discounts the impermanent nature of this life. It denies our need to acknowledge, feel, and let go of grief that we all feel when we experience a loss, small or great. It also robs us of an opportunity to be supported by and to feel one with our community. After all, loss is something everyone experiences, and yet, so many deny the need to grieve.
This is especially unfair, considering how unrealistic of expectations the society is placing on us. Social media bombards us with the same message over and over: we are expected to stay forever young, stoic, and rich.
As women age, they can’t even get to the feeling of grief about the loss of their youth because it is preceded by a strong feeling of shame. Women are shamelessly shamed for losing their beauty. Botox yourself, they say, and don’t forget to apply filters. Oh, and always lie about your age.
What happens when we lose a beloved pet? It was just a pet, they say. Get yourself a new one, you’ll be fine.
God forbid you don’t own a house and are not driving a BMW by the time you are 25. When life happens, and as a result, we are unable to attain the societal expectations of wealth, instead of grieving our lost dreams and ambitions, we often turn to envy and hatred towards those who have these possessions.
Our reality is filled with all sorts of loss. Grief comes in many different shapes and sizes. Things that feel minor to us, might feel devastating to others.
Some of us choose to close our heart to avoid feeling the pain of loss and end up turning the unacknowledged grief into contempt towards others who do exhibit the pain. Some of us turn the unacknowledged grief into hatred towards those who have what we’ve lost. Some of us choose to say they are beyond feeling any pain because it is all part of the divine plan.
Neither of these options is healthy and neither brings peace into our life. Regardless of its cause, grief is a powerful, painful emotion that needs to be acknowledged, felt, and released.
Denying our grief for any reason does not serve us or those around us. Since emotions are part of who are we are, accepting the need for grief is a much healthier alternative. Despite what the society might have us believe, grieving our losses keeps our hearts open, allows us to accept loss as a natural part of life, and, very importantly, develops our compassion for others who have experienced loss.