A very dear to my heart woman of wisdom, strength, and humor told me this today.
So many people-an inordinate amount actually-I know and love are going through such intense heartache and grief and fear right now. This very second as these words are being typed.
I’m overwhelmed by the resilience of the human spirit. That spirit that, although weary and gripped by fear and pain, and questioning EVERYTHING, that sometimes feels like it just cannot take one more breath, somehow, keeps going. And going.
Many of my clients ask me how to hold it all together while surviving the grief and loss. It saddens me that they believe they have to hold it all together all the time. I mean, how is a human whose child just died or has just miscarried or found out some horrendous news about the health of a child or themselves or another loved one (insert any heartache here) supposed to hold it all together? And what does that even mean? Because, really, trying to hold it all together can make it even more horrible than it already is. It can wipe that resiliency right on out in my experience as a human and a therapist. What is this holding it all together crap so many of us think is helpful? How does it serve us and humanity collectively to consistently hold back tears, to put on a “pretty” or a “strong” face for others, to wrap our pain up in a cute little package with a fake smile on top?
For those of you who know me well, this is where the cussing begins- Because of course it doesn’t fucking serve us or anyone else well- it only creates more suffering- the pretending that takes inordinate amounts of energy, energy the grieving and suffering do not have to give, because just staying alive amidst the pain of whatever it may be takes all the energy. All of it some days. And this is why isolation can seem so necessary and vital. In isolation, holding it all together does not have to be achieved.
So let’s start honoring our grief and loss and heartache and pain with the gift of allowing it to be seen, for letting the tears fall even if you are in public and not giving a shit about appearances. How freeing it can be to not have to constantly hold it together. Maybe holding it together can be holding space for your own suffering, not forcing smiles or false words. Let’s redefine “holding it together” so that it’s more acceptable to ourselves (and others) to show up without always wearing the masks of bullshit. By not feeling like we have to sugarcoat our experience.
And, of course, I am not advocating for emotional dumping of ALL THE THINGS in inappropriate places or with people we barely know. I mean first within our own belief systems internally and then with dear and trusted friends and family, health care providers, and colleagues that we consider trustworthy. Because don’t we ALL experience these heartaches and traumas at some point in time?
So may we all begin the permission giving process of grieving out loud, teary and snotty and human or quiet and numb or dark-humored or in whatever way is YOUR way.
And to each and every one of you out there right now, please know I am consistently sending you compassion and healing energy for peace and resilience and that I am taking those inhales and exhales right along with you.