Be a Party Pooper
Recently, a friend of mine was going through a major life change, and I heard this message from her often:
I feel like I'm not allowed to be sad.
And my reply to that was:
You're grieving, be feral.
This sentiment is something I hear a lot from clients during sessions. The idea that, in times of hardship, we have to keep our shit together for the sake of other people. This idea is complete bullshit, in my opinion.
And it speaks to a greater, systemic problem within American culture.
Keep your chin up.
They're in a better place.
It's not that bad.
Others have it worse.
I should just get over it.
All of these sentiments imply that you are not supposed to be sad, and if you are, definitely do not show it.
Because that might make other people uncomfortable…
As a write this, I'm crying on my couch because someone I knew in high school tragically lost their husband this month. The friend and her husband had been dating exactly one year less than me and my husband, to the day.
The fact that someone I used to know well is currently going through my worst nightmare tugs on that human part of me that is equal parts empathetic, devastated, and terrified with the knowledge that death is an equal-opportunity occurrence.
At no point have I thought she should have kept her pain to herself. In fact, allowing the world to bear witness to her pain feels so beautifully brave. Just through social media, she has influenced me to be more appreciative of my life. And I have worked with enough humans to know that we work very much like steam-powered machines. If you shove all the sadness down, keep the pain to yourself, and take responsibility for everyone's comfort-
Eventually, you'll explode.
Keeping your shit together perpetuates the idea that silence means strength.
Keeping your shit together takes away the chance for others to support you.
Keeping your shit together will physically and mentally harm you.
So Be Feral
Share your grief.
Cry in the supermarket.
Refuse to acknowledge platitudes.
Don't put on a brave face.
Feel, and lean, and be seen.