Hey friends, sorry for the delay in a new blog. I had hoped to post more often, but life has gotten in the way these past couple of weeks.
Last week I was watching a popular talk-show host / psychologist counsel his female guest who is grieving the tragic loss of her boyfriend. His advice to her was, “Don’t stop talking about it! Talk, talk and talk some more! Out of all the things you can do to help you grieve, this is the most important.”
Of course, I couldn’t help but think about my experience and how it was quite the opposite for me. I learned very quickly that people were tired of hearing about my grief and seemed to not understand. It may also be true that they simply did not understand and it was my perception that they were tired of hearing about it. However, it was comments relayed to me that were most upsetting. For example, one friend said, “What did you expect, that he would live forever?” While I try not to judge my friend, it is difficult to understand comments like this. I started to become more selective in who I talked to about losing Sebastian, and today, I do the same with whom I discuss my father’s health.
While the terrible ache in my heart has subsided, I still have days where I unexpectedly find a toy of Sebastian’s or drive by a favourite spot that reminds me of him…and then, the big ugly cry ensues. As a Master of Counseling student, I am aware of the dictates on the stages of grief, yet I truly never understood the stage of acceptance until I lost him. That is, for the first few months I could not believe he was truly gone from my life. This furry little creature was with me for almost twenty years and now he is simply not there. It was, and is still at times, surreal to me. As a student it is compulsory that I learn not just all the facets of psychology, but also how one’s own life experiences may affect a client within the counseling environment. Sebastian’s death was my first experience with losing someone close to me in all of my forty-something years. (I know, I am blessed!) While I do not consider myself an expert, per se, I do believe that by talking about it with people who genuinely care about you and are willing to listen is an integral aspect to healing.
This brings me back to the subject of the big ugly cry. I know when I experience feelings of sadness, disappointment, frustration, etc. I allow myself to cry. Did you know that biochemically it is proven that crying releases stress hormones? True story. Our bodies create three different types of tears: reflex, continual and emotional. (You can Google &/or find out more about this from the link below*, but for the sake of this blog post I will focus on the emotional tears.) Stress hormones are excreted from the body within emotional tears by crying. From a physiological perspective, one’s breathing and heart rate is also lowered, therefore providing an overall calming effect on your body and emotional state. From my perspective, crying is beneficial to you physically, emotionally AND spiritually – why would you choose to hold your tears in?
I cannot discuss crying without bringing up the subject of societal expectations. I have been in situations, in which I have cried openly in front of another and, clearly, the other individual was uncomfortable. While I have felt embarrassed and, at times, apologetic – I believe this is something we need to let go of. While most of us may not have someone we feel comfortable disclosing our true feelings to, there are many options in which we may express our grief. (P.S. If you have ideas, please don’t hesitate to share with us!) Write about it in a diary, create a ‘funny memory’ book – and give yourself permission to cry. I can tell you that there are days when I remember something ridiculous that Sebastian did and through my tears I am also laughing out loud. For the first while it was difficult to focus on the good memories, because other emotions would surface, such as guilt and/or overwhelming feelings of sadness. Today, I welcome those memories. So, whether it is watching a good chick flick, thinking about someone you have lost – let go and have the big ugly cry. No promises, but I am pretty sure you will feel better afterwards.
Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my Canadian peeps!