I tried hard to keep down the tears at my son’s funeral but I finally lost it at his open grave. Initially, when I had gotten the news, I had so much emotion that I collapsed to the floor screaming and sobbing till I had to throw up. The massive emotions caused my body to trip the “overload switch” shutting me down emotionally and plunging me into a numb daze.
At the funeral, powerful emotions were still surfacing through the numbness. I tried my best to hold them down though. Apparently, it was an academy award performance, and I was complemented on my “strength”. At the cemetery though, it was over and I totally lost it. I stood there at the open grave, beside his flower covered casket and suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks, I was burying my son in there. I broke out in uncontrolled wailing. I did not realize it was an important and helpful moment in my journey of healing.
In our culture, when a sad preschooler runs crying to Mom, “That girl said I can’t play with them”, Mom might hand her tearful child a cookie. “Don’t feel bad, here, a chocolate chip cookie will cheer you up,” The child eats the cookie, is distracted and feels different. Not better, just different. She also learned she should stop feeling bad. The child stuffed the cookie in her mouth and stuffed the hurt feeling deep down inside. The emotional pain did not go away nor was the problem solved.
Fast forward and the same child has grown up, and her boyfriend dumped her. Now she reaches for a tub of chocolate ice-cream for comfort.
We have learned to reach for food for comfort and bury feelings under it. My personal favorite is chocolate, I must admit. But it might be alcohol/drugs. Or it can also be other behaviors that, when used for temporary emotional relief can be damaging: shopping, sex, fantasy (on-line, games, books, TV), excessive work and excessive exercise.
The bad news is that they don’t provide long-term healing. They don’t address the root of the ache inside. If we don’t process the grief and complete the process, these emotions will create problems for our health, our enthusiasm and our future.
We need to relearn how we face emotions if we want to heal. Keeping them pent up inside like a kettle with a cork in the spout will cause us to blow when the heat is on!
It is healthier to face the naturally occurring pain caused by your loss. No, I am not a masochist and yes, I wish there was a gentler, easier way. However, facing the pain and walking through it, tying up the lose ends of the relationship by processing it and expressing your emotions is what will bring healing.
And yes, it is okay to cry at the funeral.
Blessings, big hugs and keep moving forward,
For more helpful blog articles scroll down. Included are: Birthday Parties in Heaven, He is not here, Just tell Me What Happened and The Worst Nightmare plus helpful Renewing Resilience Tips.
If you are facing loss, get the support you need. For additional resources, including a no-obligation personal intake coaching session, on, "Find your gold for healing the heartbreak" with Helga Bender MThS, click here.
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