As we're in the midst of awards season here, I'm wondering if you might be worthy of your own golden trophy.
Well, it would be for that Oscar-worthy performance we all give sometimes. The one where we say, “No, really…I’m fine!” with a grin that's more plastic than a Barbie doll.
Yeah, that one.
We've all been nominated for it at some point, especially when our suppressed emotions are usually as welcome as a fart in an elevator.
It's like FINE is a universal code for "Feelings Inside, Not Expressed." We've all been there, using these two words of 'I'm fine' as a shield to guard our true emotions from the world. And this facade often stems from those well-meaning but misguided pieces of advice we've all heard over the years:
- "Big girls don't cry."
- "Man up."
- "Move on already."
- "You're being too emotional."
These phrases push us to stuff down our true feelings, turning us into emotional magicians – our feelings may 'disappear' on the surface but are secretly sawing us in half backstage.
But here's the thing about grief - just like Houdini, it's also a master escape artist. It finds its way out through late-night online shopping sprees, one too many glasses of wine, or hours lost in social media rabbit holes. Emotions are energy-in-motion, so they can't stay contained for long. And they come out in these sneaky ways that can disrupt our lives if we're not mindful of our numbing behaviours.
Grief can make us feel vulnerable, like we're walking a tightrope without a safety net. But here’s the thing – it's okay to feel that way. Grief is unpredictable, sometimes catching us off guard with a wave of emotions over the smallest trigger like a song on the radio. It can feel risky to express this openly, thanks to those societal messages that urge us to keep it under wraps.
Let's flip the script.
Instead of "Feelings Inside, Not Expressed," let's make "I'm fine" stand for "Feelings Invited, Now Embraced." It's about opening the door to those emotions, giving them a seat at the table, and acknowledging their presence.
In other parts of the world, grief is a shared experience. Communities come together, embracing grief openly. It’s a beautiful reminder that there’s another way to approach our loss - not in isolation, but in togetherness.
For example, in many Middle Eastern and East African nations, public displays of intense emotion (both joy and grief) are welcomed and expected. They ululate loudly at funerals (and weddings). It’s normal to be vocal about your grief and to express it publicly.
The Irish also have a tradition of keening. A loud, public lamentation for the dead. There’s a master keener and her cry summons the other keeners to gather and sing the dying through their final transition (how beautiful is that, it's like a final lullaby).
These traditions of keening and ululating provide such a sense of community. They honour and love the person who has died. They provide an outlet for the expression of grief. And they show us there’s another way.
All this to say...whatever you're feeling is normal.
Maybe you cry enough to fill a river. Maybe you never cry a single tear. All your emotions are welcome. The important thing is that you find a way to express them.
It’s time to stop numbing out.
It’s time to tell your story to someone who has earned the right to hear it.
It’s time to find someone who will hold space for you without judgment.
It’s time to ask for what you NEED – to be seen and heard without anyone trying to “fix” you or dismiss/minimize your loss.
If you don’t have that person in your life. . .I would be honoured to hold space for you and walk your grief journey with you.
So, if you're tired of saying "I'm fine" and ready to embrace your true feelings, set up a time to talk with me.
Your grief is yours alone, but that doesn't mean you have to face it alone. Let's redefine 'fine' together, ya?
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