The importance of allowing ourselves to grieve cannot be overstated. When grieving ANY loss, be sure to make time for feeling the emotions that arise, whether they are anger, sadness, or pain.
You will begin to develop the coping skills needed to live your life while facing your grief, ironically once you allow yourself TO grieve.
Like the heat of the sun, it doesn’t matter whether the intensity is high or low, all degrees of grief need and should be validated…
“Above all, allow yourself time. Time to reflect, time to grieve and time to heal.” -Unknown
…I remember when tears rolled down my daughter’s cheek as Bing-bong started to fade.
Her cries came when Joy finally made it to the top and Bing-bong faded for good.
“Mommy, can we stop this? It makes me sad!”
We paused the show and I held her. After a few moments, I asked her about her feelings and thoughts. She told me about “Goldie” for the first time.
Apparently, Goldie is her imaginary unicorn friend and she’s afraid of growing up and forgetting about Goldie.
I related my experience and named what she was feeling: Grief.
I shared with her that grownups have that too.
And I shared that I wonder if she’s feeling sad about getting older. We had a wonderful conversation.
All of her feelings were validated.
I listened to every note. I didn’t assume what or why she was feeling one thing or another.
She had space to grieve.
And I thought about how frequently I hear things like,
“It’s just a show”, “it’s okay!”, “No need to cry!”
And maybe on the surface, those things seem true.
She is safe. It is just a show, but it triggered underlying emotion in her. And sure there’s no need to cry over a movie,
BUT why would we encourage someone not to cry when their body and emotions are telling them to do that?
Why do we restrict ourselves from crying?
“Let it all out,” is actually a great piece of advice.
Suppressing your emotions, whether it’s anger, sadness, grief, or frustration, can lead to physical stress on your body.
So why do we do it??
Sometimes people can mistake crying for a sign of weakness, but crying is just the body’s way to not only reduce emotional stress,
But also process it!
And if we don’t allow ourselves to process our emotions, we are withholding ourselves from healing.
Later that day, we took on a project to draw a picture and write about Goldie so that Etta could remember her. I tried to draw a unicorn (and came up with some pretty disturbing pictures). She tried to describe Goldie as best she could.
She was supported – and it wasn’t because we’d told her to “buck up” or “just get over it”.
It was because she was validated and heard.
Are you validating and hearing your own concerns as a parent?
Parenthood is just a series of small and big griefs, over and over again.
The little baby, whose skin was so soft, who felt like heaven snuggled up on your shoulder – that little baby isn’t here anymore.
The toddler that giggles with delight at your easy jokes – she is also gone.
And yet, this is a form of ambiguous loss.
If you’re fortunate, your child is still there with you, just a little older.
And one day we will look up and they’ll be grown-ups themselves; at least that’s the hope.
So how can we possibly get through these everyday griefs without grieving?
One thing I love about the movie Inside Out is that the mom’s brain puts sadness in charge. The wisdom there is to know that we have to allow ourselves to feel sadness.
We need community and we need to care for ourselves.
And the sadness helps facilitate that care.
What is your sadness trying to communicate to you? | Part of the importance of allowing oursevles to grieve
Or to your loved ones?
Stay tuned for Part 2: Communicating with people we love!
In the meantime, remember the importance of allowing yourself to grieve.
I hope my daughter’s story gave you the courage to do so.
“Grief is the normal and natural reaction to the loss of someone we love or something we value.”
It’s okay not to be okay.
You show yourself the greatest respect when you give your grief attention and allow yourself to feel pain, no matter how deep.
Don’t hold back.
Otherwise, you can’t move forward.