Is there a difference between “trying to be strong” and choosing to grieve privately?
In our culture, we are applauded for “being strong” after we’ve experienced a profound loss. We actually get a tremendous about of approval for being strong in the face of any kind of pain.
So rather than allowing ourselves to be vulnerable we’re encouraged to be stoic.
As I said in a recent post, moving through grief requires us to be vulnerable.
We’re supposed to feel the pain. Not because life is supposed to be terrible and painful. Not because we’re being punished. Not because we’re being disloyal for feeling anything other than pain but rather…
We’re supposed to feel the pain because the pain opens the pathway out of our grief and back into life. It’s a life transformed, certainly, but it is life nonetheless.
On the other hand, being stoic closes every possible exit until we’re left with nothing but a brittle shell of who we once were.
Does that mean we’re supposed to be a blubbering mass of hysteria every minute of every day? Of course not. Many of us choose to grieve privately…alone or with a few trusted friends.
The issue isn’t about who sees our pain. What matters is that we acknowledge our own pain, that we are willing to face it and feel it. That’s what matters. It’s what happens in the privacy of our own hearts that makes the difference.
So yes there is a huge difference between pretending to ourselves and everybody else that we’re okay and making the choice to acknowledge the pain of grief in private.
Photo Credit: Mingret