Can Grief Be Avoided?

Not everyone is good at emotions. When a terrible loss happens, we are hit with a whirlwind of strong emotions. Our ability to navigate our emotional world during the time of crisis determines how much of a negative effect the loss is going to have on our life.


We live in a chronically “busy” society, where there is not enough time for anything. Well, there is always time for social media and then, for more social media. But other than that, there is no time. Between work, kids, and family/household obligations, there is very little time left for anything else for most of us. Schedules and deadlines have no compassion.


Most of us are never taught the importance of caring for our emotional well-being. We have no training or skill in this area and usually follow the patterns we’d absorbed from our family and important people in our life.


There is also a lot of pressure to maintain an appearance of a perfectly successful life. Perfectly successful life has no room for fear, anxiety, sadness, or anger. No one wants to be caught crying at work because their beloved dog just passed away. No one wants to sit at the table next to someone who is raging about their ex-employer because they were laid off without warning.


It is not so much that we can’t relate to these emotions because, deep inside, we all know how painful it is to lose a loved one or a source of stability and income. It is the expression of the emotion itself that makes most of us uncomfortable.


This is a learned behavior since little children are perfectly fine screaming at the top of their lungs when their favorite toy is taken away or rolling on the floor in the store when they don’t get their favorite treat.  


While the ability to regulate our emotions is a necessary social skill and is a sign of maturity, why are we taught that “no emotion” is the best kind of emotion? Why are we taught that crying or being sad or worrying is a weakness? And most importantly, what happens when our emotions are not regulated but instead, are entirely suppressed?


Emotions are not meant to be dealt with whenever is convenient. When it comes to emotions, “I’ll deal with it tomorrow” a lot of the time turns into “never”. Never dealing with emotions is the worst-case scenario.


Emotions are not objects, they are states of being; they are dynamic and fluid. They need to be acknowledged, felt, and let go. When water sits in place for a long time, it eventually stagnates. Our emotions are just like that; they need to move through us, even the most painful ones. Unprocessed, suppressed emotions create an internal imbalance, which under certain circumstances, can lead to disease. 


While some of us are naturally more expressive than others, even for the least timid of us, it can be difficult to know what to do when we are flooded with a powerful emotion, especially with such a strong and inevitable one as grief.


Ideally, we are able to express grief surrounded by a supportive community. If this is not available, seek counsel of a kind mental health professional, keep a private journal for your thoughts and feelings, meditate, spend time in nature.


In other words, do everything you can to create an environment that helps you acknowledge, feel, and then let go of the emotional pain. Grief is an unfortunate part of our reality, give yourself time and show yourself compassion as you are working your way through this difficult life passage.  

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