It Won’t Be Denied
“You do it now or you do it later, but you will do it. It won’t be denied!” This from a man who experienced the death of his wife and two years later came to a grief support group I was facilitating because he was struggling (to his surprise). He went on to say, “I thought I was doing really good – getting back to my normal life not too long after she died. But then I started drinking and eating more and more, becoming moody, disconnecting from family and friends, and just so unhappy – finding myself crying at almost anything or getting angry at the silliest things. I’m starting to scare myself. I really thought I could handle this on my own.” Like many, he realized no matter how hard we try to push down, avoid, deny, block, forbid, reject, get back to “normal,” busy ourselves, cover up, pretend, “buck up,” etc. grief will find a way to express itself either in healthy or in unhealthy ways.
We don’t have a choice regarding grief because it’s normal, natural and necessary. Whenever we experience any kind of loss we also experience grief (consciously or unconsciously). Grief is all the thoughts and feelings we carry inside of us, such as confusion, anger, fear, sadness, loneliness, relief, joy, guilt, resentment and so many more.
What’s important for our wellbeing is to become aware of and to honestly acknowledge our thoughts and feelings, and to express them with safe people who will honor and respect them without judgement. This is called mourning – expressing outwardly what we are experiencing inwardly, or grief gone public. Intentional mourning – expressing our grief – is absolutely essential for healing to happen. Mourning not only takes intention, it takes work and effort, and if not practiced will lead to unhealthy behaviors. Healthy expressions of grief can take all kinds of forms, but many have found being with others in a support group setting very helpful.
A grief support group offers participants a safe, comforting and empathetic environment in which to tell their story and, as importantly, to listen to the experience of others as they share their journey of grief. Often, support groups will also provide helpful educational information regarding the grief process. The vast majority of group participants are simply amazed at how very healing it is to be heard and to be with others, frequently strangers at the beginning, who get it. As well, participants often feel empowered as they attain knowledge and an understanding of grief, and receive practical resources and strategies on how to walk the journey. Most participants are relieved to discover they are not alone and that what they are experiencing is normal.