GIVE INTO GRIEF
“It is one of the unnoticed achievements of daily life to keep the wild complexity of your real identity so well hidden that most people never suspect the worlds that collide in your heart.” – Eternal Echoes
Why do we avoid “difficult” emotions?
Every morning we wake up, roll out of bed, and get ready for the day ahead. Some days are dreaded, others are anticipated, but most are what we’ve come to expect. We know the routine that’s about to play out and where it will lead us -right back to where we started. Still, we usually perform this daily ritual without question. After all this is the part we’re supposed to play! Thus the reality of our role and how it really makes us feel is irrelevant. As long as we follow the script we’ll eventually achieve success.
But what happens when we’re separated from the potential of success? How do we rationalize our suffering then? Do we wake up and rewrite our role or do we continue to cling onto our costume? Perhaps we justify the tumultuous journey because we’re in character.
The most important thing we wear each day is our attitude, and we’ve learned to only wear certain emotional “colors” around other people. It’s not appropriate to show your sadness to a stranger, call out your colleague, or express existential thoughts towards an acquaintance. The answer to, “How are you doing?” should always be a choice of “Fine”, “Good”, or “Great” with no followup. Thus there’s no room for authentic emotional expression in our everyday life. So how can we have meaningful moments that lead to genuine connections if we’re always wearing a costume that conceals our true character?
For most of our lives we’re taught to keep the “bad” feelings locked inside of us. Whether it was done explicitly or implicitly, many of us were told not to cry, not to get upset, and not to show how negative emotions affect us. We were forced to wear masks that made us appear more “acceptable”. Thus we learned to live life through a limiting lens because we weren’t allowed to experience the full spectrum of emotions.
Essentially, we don’t know how to deal with difficult emotions because we were never taught to express them. This is a societal blind spot and something we’ve struggled to see until recently. The emergence of COVID has emphasized the truth -that we are more united than divided. Yet we rarely act as such. It took a worldwide pandemic to remind us of the shared human struggle. Something that no one is immune to. But instead of holding onto this shared struggle and seeing how much closer it could bring us, most of us just want to move on.
The opportunity to give into our grief is a gift. It’s not about reliving past pain or surrounding ourselves in sadness. Giving into grief is about allowing ourselves to fully feel what we’ve lost -to come to terms with the change in our lives. When we push past grief and hold our sadness, anger, or resentment inside of us, it will only stay there. If we can’t communicate our feelings openly without the fear of being shamed or scolded, we will never move beyond them.
Instead, we must learn to honor our emotions -especially the “difficult” ones- for they are there to remind us of the love and happiness we’ve had in our lives. We, collectively as a world community, are suffering under the same stress, yet we’ve ignored our communal grief. We look ahead to the future and dream of life going back to “normal”, but have we really taken the time to acknowledge what we’ve lost?
This is a rare opportunity to embrace and emanate empathy for the entire world. We have all been personally affected, some more than others. But pain is pain and loss is loss. There is no need to minimize or neglect this fact. Instead, we can connect through our communal grief and allow each other the time needed to accept this new reality. Then perhaps we can come together for a higher cause: always allow an emotional space for one another.
If we take off our costumes and show our inner emotions, we’ll see that we all really do feel the same things. That we are more united than separated. And grief can be the gift that brings us back together.
Practices & Motivations