|Photo credit: Martin via Wylio|
So I should probably start by saying this is not a post about death or dying (although I have just come back from a Vicar School weekend looking at this theme). It’s more some (slightly rambling) thoughts about grief and our emotions, and how we experience them through our lives, and not just when dealing with bereavement.
I learned a lot this weekend about grief and dealing with it, but what has really surprised me is that I realised I am experiencing grief for things other than death, in my life. We looked at stages of grief and it was in that I recognised some of the emotions in my life.
We are naturally beings with emotions and feelings, and yet so often we don’t really pay attention to those feelings. It’s only when they overwhelm us and make us incapable of going about our daily lives that we really address them. The danger though is that feelings we haven’t dealt with suddenly appear and surprise us when we are least expecting it, a bit like a bird pooping on your head from a great height in the middle of the High Street when you are happily minding your own business. Which by the way, according to superstition (which I don’t really do) is lucky. Hmm seems to me like a bird crapping on your head would be distinctly unlucky, but there you go. This morning I found myself quite amazed when preparing to share something quite positive from my life and from the weekend that I was engulfed by snot and sobs. Thankfully my Vicar School mates have seen the snot thing before so it wasn’t too awkward. However I really couldn’t get a grip on myself, even having shared what I wanted, so I took some time out in the salubrious surrounding of the ladies lavs in the King Charles Hotel. I stared in the mirror, asking God in bewilderment: ‘what on earth is this about? because you’re going to a have to help me out here, I haven’t got a flippin’ clue!’
Well, turns out God does actually listen and I became aware of some deep rooted pain from a situation I thought was dealt with, emotionally dealt with that is. Turns out it’s also something that isn’t just going to go away and I think in acknowledging that pain this morning God gave me a bit of freedom to feel hurt, and angry, and let down, and to recognise the injustice of the situation. There was, and is, great freedom in that, to think, actually yes, this is all a bit pants and that’s ok.
We don’t really do emotion in this country do we? We’re all stiff upper lip, jolly good, carry on. Total stereotype I know, and things are improving, but think about it, we feel awkward with PDA (public displays of affection) don’t we? we’re all: ‘get a room’…. People who are overly emotional and can’t move on, we get fed up with, think they should be ‘over this by now’. And it’s because we don’t know what to do with it, we don’t know what box to put it in, we can’t just solve it with a ‘nice cup of tea’.
I wonder how many people with long term depression or mental health issues could actually be helped by being allowed a public outlet for their emotion, rather than feeling they need to keep it in. I’ve written before about the stigma of mental illness and I think it’s part of the same thing, public emotion makes us feel awkward, we just can’t deal with it. When actually if you think about it, if you’ve been through something terrible, on whatever level, it’s quite right that you should want to scream and shout about it. In my case I tend to come home and rant at my husband about anything that has affected me, he’s the one person who hears me swear (ok someone else heard me today so almost the only person!) and I think that’s actually quite healthy – letting the emotion out that is not the swearing. It’s not big and it’s not clever… You know what it’s like when you try to cram too much into a suitcase, eventually the zip is going to burst open and all your dirty laundry will be on display and it will be when you are least prepared for it. But like that, with our past emotions & memories, better to give them a good look at every now and then and put away the ones we have done with.
Some very good friends of ours moved house a while back, moving about half an hour drive away. We went from seeing them almost every day to once every few months. I have to admit it took me some time to get used to this because I missed them terribly, we all did, kids too. I realised this weekend I had actually grieved the loss of that relationship. Of course the relationship is still there but it’s so different, vastly in fact. Of course when we get together it’s like we haven’t been apart but the being apart has been quite challenging. If only I had realised sooner that it’s actually pretty normal to grieve over loss and change. And I’m someone who actually thrives on change and new things, but this was different.
So I guess I’ve come away from this weekend realising how important it is to think things through, to recognise emotions when they come and to allow them to be worked through when and where necessary. Some things we continue to carry with us, and we learn through them, others we can put to one side once dealt with or when the time is right. But that remembering to do that is the key…