Good natured attempts at compassion, e.g., “Just get over it” or “You’re so much better off now,” “Think of all the good things,” or “The person (whom died) wouldn’t want you to be so sad,” or, “Replace your loss with a new ____,” or “___(the loss) was years ago, get over it?” usually end up silencing the truth of what you are feeling.
When your feelings aren’t recognized by others or yourself, you have to develop coping mechanisms.
You may cope by distraction, (of which our culture is extremely adept at providing). Over-working, over-eating, overspending, over-sexing, over-medicating, or withdrawing in other ways, are common. These methods may work in the short-term to keep pain at bay, but don’t resolve deeper feelings of loss and grief. Further, as life continues on, continued unresolved grief can build up and create rigidity and unhappiness.
“Tears come from the heart, not the brain, “ Leonardo Da Vinci.
Designed for sadness
We feel sad, fundamentally, because we are human. We can’t feel true joy without knowing sadness. Denying this emotion is like extracting a core piece of ourselves. However, when you hurt, you, like lots of others, rely on your brain, guilt or critical judgement to protect yourself from feeling sadness. After listening to people describe relationship break ups for years, most say, “I should have known. How could I be so stupid,” as if this revisionist intellectual analysis is first of all, correct and secondly, can help how the heart feels.
Your heart hurts
You usually don’t start with the essential truth, “My heart is so ____ (shattered, bruised, sliced, flattened, shredded), you fill in the blank.
Acknowledging you are supposed to feel sad when sad things happen is a first step. Making sure you don’t deny sadness–converting it into numbness, embarrassment or anger– is next. Finally, having tools to express feelings of sadness to others who are safe and supportive is the last important step in taking good care of sadness.
Giving yourself a non-hurried, non-judgmental space to navigate grief can be invaluable. The brain and heart need time to make sense of what’s happened. As a result, you can authentically move past agony and into consolidation, which allows you to be more present again in your own life. You can feel genuinely happy, not like you are faking a performance of being okay.