Where do you store your feelings of loss and grief?
When I lost my mother, I was not prepared for the sadness that accompanied the days, weeks, and months after my mother’s death. It felt like carrying the sadness of every loss I had ever encountered in my heart.
There was nothing holding back the tears. The lid was open and I knew I had to work through my feelings and acknowledge them to be able to heal.
I had to be open to heal into a new me without my mother’s presence but her love still deeply embedded in my heart.
What do I mean when I say the lid was open?
Think of our emotional centre as a pot and our feelings being kept in there by a lid on top of it.
As infants, our feelings move freely in and out. We cry when we are hungry. We laugh out loud when we are happy.
We react spontaneously to our feelings and no-one cares that we do so until we get older.
Then we learn to behave.
Somewhere on the way we also learn that a loss of any kind should be kept to ourselves. That it is a private affair.
Perhaps a grandparent dies and our parents don’t cry in front of us. So we don’t know if they are hurting or not.
Or we hear them cry behind closed doors. The message we get is: “Don’t show your feelings in public”.
There are many examples.
The following might resonate with you.
- Our beloved pet dies and we are told not to cry. To be able to cope with the loss we build a wall around that feeling and put it in our emotional pot.
- We move and we are promised that we will get to visit our friends but it never happens. We are building our little wall around that feeling of loss and it goes into the pot too.
- Our first girl or boy friend breaks up with us and we are told “there are plenty of fish in the pond”. Wall around the sadness and in the pot it goes.
More losses follow and soon the pot is full.
We are told not to feel bad so we put a lid on our emotional pot to make sure these feelings don’t bother us.
The lid is pushed down by myths about grief that we hear from all kind of sources and society.
- Don’t feel bad.
- Replace the loss.
- It just takes time.
- Be strong for others.
- Move on.
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Emotions Are Energy
Emotions can also be described as energy.
Every day life’s stress adds fire underneath that emotional pot.
We can feel the pot starting to boil over. To avoid the over-boiling we take part in activities that help us feel a release so that we can slam the lid back on.
What do we do?
One thing I used to medicate myself with, was to watch TV. I don’t mean one movie. I mean binge watching a whole series in one night and walking around like a zombie the next day.
Other energy releasing behaviours:
- TV, Netflix
- Social Media
- Alcohol and other drugs
What is yours?
What happens when it becomes too much?
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing." — C.S. Lewis
While our life goes on, our pot gets filled with more tucked away feelings.
The fire of stress might get hotter underneath with more responsibilities of every day life.
Example: If the pot is already full and then you go to work and the other co-workers are mean to you or your boss has an unreasonable request, you might have an explosion of behaviour. I always wonder if road rage has its roots there too.
If you drop one more loss into that already overfilled pot you will probably get an over reaction. An explosion of emotions that can overwhelm you and stop you in your tracks.
You might think that this loss was nothing compared to all the other losses in your life but it was the one that burst the pot open.
All of a sudden you are not dealing with one loss anymore but with all your stored emotions as well.
At that moment, it is important to gather your support system. This can be your friends, your family, or outside help from a therapist.
While the feelings are out in the open, we want to tackle all that accumulated and unresolved grief. It is an energy that you want to acknowledge so that your healing can start.
The illusion that suffering in silence works is just that an illusion. Waiting until things resolve themselves doesn’t help us.
We have to become active.
“We are designed as processing plants and not storage tanks.” - anonymous
"Just because you feel lost doesn’t mean that you are. Sometimes you just have to relax, breathe deep, and trust the path you’re on." — Lalah Delia
Thank you for reading.
If this resonated with you in any way, please send me a comment.
I do my best to respond to every one.
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