Permission to Grieve
I miss my sister. I miss her so much right now, and I can’t stop crying. All I want to do when I think of her is cry. I want to be “okay” - and this doesn’t feel like I’m okay. I’m frustrated, I’m angry - I wanted to be done with the crying done with pain, and the anguish and everything else.
But that’s not how grieving works. 6 Years. 6 Fucking years - and it’s still hard every year waking up on this anniversary - knowing my sister will never see me at this age, or meet my kids, or her own grandchildren. I know she is “with me” and I see her in myself, my sisters, her children, her grandchildren - but it’s not the same. It’s just not, and some days I feel like I just can’t continue to imagine a world without her in it. Even though I’ve had to for 6 fucking years.
This year especially has been hard, as I see her in the pain of those around me who have loved ones going through cancer, or sick, or have passed. I feel her loss with every single person around me who loses someone - and recently, that has felt like the whole world.
So I have to make space for these feelings, or I’ll go insane. People aren't prepared for it though, still. People are not comfortable with grief.
Everyone wants it all tied up in a nice little bow. They want my tears to be quieter, my sobbing to be silent. They want my grief to be “gotten over”. Me to have moved on. But I haven’t - because I don’t believe that’s how it works.
We need to learn to sit with this pain and witness it. Not to brush it aside, or pretend it’s not there. It’s not about bearing the pain, putting up with the anguish, dwelling on our grief. It’s about witnessing the reality of our experience. We have lost someone, or something. It hurts. Let’s just get really honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we may never “get over” it and that THAT is okay.
Give yourself permission to cry, to smash something, to scream into a pillow, or underwater in your pool or in your car. Give yourself the power of expression for this experience that you have had because you are worth it. I’ll be over here sobbing on the floor - just for a while.
Forget comparison, forget minimizing thoughts, forget judgement.
You have experienced something that is painful to you, and you are allowed to take the space to feel it.
I was recently introduced to the concept of disenfranchised grief, and it blew my mind. I’ll write more another time, but the gist is that it’s grief that is felt, but cannot be shared because of various reasons - for example - no one can relate (a rare illness you have that interrupts your life), it’s perceived as less than (the loss of a pet vs. human life), or it’s not lost of life at all (divorce).
What blew my mind more, was questioning how does this double up on comparative grief? Which shows up when we apply limitations or comparisons to our grief. For example, I lost a friend, but my mate lost his wife therefore my grief doesn’t count as much.
Both of these are based in societal norms and comparison. This is unhelpful to the processing of our grief.
So in this moment, I say - you have permission to feel the full weight of your grief and express it how you choose. I witness you in your grief, and if you have someone you can trust, a therapist, family member or friend you are comfortable to share with - ask them to witness you.
We are shit at this. We are bad at allowing pain to exist and take up space and not try to fix, shut it down, or block it out. But being able to do this, is like a super power. It opens up depth, inquiry, expression and freedom that has otherwise alluded us in this space of grief.
On the flip side, if you have a friend who needs someone to hold space for them, my mentor Jenna Ward recently wrote about holding space vs. making someone feel better.
Let me know how you get on, opening up the world and changing it to talk about grief is hard work, but there are some of us doing it. I’d love to hear your story.
Photo by Michael Rogers on Unsplash