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Why We Shouldn’t Pretend to Be OK When We’re Grieving

Pretending is hard work for someone who is grieving. It costs vital energy and leaves you in no better place than before. You’re still sad and in despair. Holding up the mask of “I can handle this” spares someone else from the true reality of grief, a reality they might not yet know.

Putting on a mask is like makeup. It looks good but it’s only skin-deep. The reality underneath hasn’t changed. Your feelings of sadness, anger, missing and despair haven’t disappeared.

Many bereaved parents I work with speak about the relief to finally be able to speak frankly with someone who understands. I worked with people facing grief and loss prior to my personal date with death, and according to their feedback, I was able to be an amazing help. Honestly, looking back I don’t think I truly understood grief. Yes, I studied it and had a lot of practical experience, but the personal experience has brought a level of understanding that I didn’t have before.

Being let in to this vulnerable, lost and helpless space the soul enters upon having lost a child or another loved one enabled me to understand what was going on. Before my losses, I was like a foreigner, allowed to visit this land. I knew its customs and actively worked on integrating myself. Now, after my loss, I’ve become a citizen of this land; I’m part of the customs and rituals, rather than just speaking about them.

Your honest sharing of the truth can enable people to discover this land of grief and loss. Being authentic and vulnerable takes courage. It’s a risk, but without risk there is no chance for change. Openness brings change because it can change people’s perspective, even those who haven’t yet experienced death in their closest surroundings.

Be a light bearer, a silence breaker, a taboo shaker. Join me in speaking openly about the reality of grief after loss.

Thinkstock image by Jupiterimages