A Grief Support Blog

This blog will allow you the opportunity to acquire both support and guidance after experiencing a significant loss.

Death and Grief: How suppressing negative emotions turns you into a trash compactor

Death and Grief:

Somehow we have been led to believe that it isn’t appropriate to communicate our sad feelings to others. One of the ideas is that by doing so, we would burden them with what we feel. By that logic, would it also follow that we shouldn’t burden others with our happy feelings? After all, what if they were having a bad day and had no desire to be uplifted? Wouldn’t it be equally unfair to burden them with our joy? Much of what we believe and how we interact with others is dictated by what we were shown and taught about dealing with our emotions. This is exponentially true when related to sad emotions.  From early childhood we are influenced to regard sad feelings as different and not equal to happy ones. The simplest way to explain the problems that ensue from that unequal idea is to suggest that the human body is the processing plant for our emotional reactions to all things that affect us. That is just as true in relation to happy feelings as it is to sad ones. 

The problem comes when we start using our bodies as storage tanks rather than just a place that our feelings can pass through on their way back out into the atmosphere.

That old phrase that we’re not supposed to use anymore, going postal, represents the outer extreme of what can happen when feelings are stored inside our bodies, under great pressure, for a long time. The emotional explosions that result from pent-up energy are not pretty, and in some cases cause disasters that you hear about on your nightly news. Granted, in most of those cases, the majority of feelings and the events that spawned them were negative. Often being fired from a job is the presenting issue, though it is usually the final straw in a litany of losses that preceded the explosion. A little digging finds divorces, health issues, and other losses lurking just behind that latest event. No, we’re not saying that all of those massive explosions are committed by otherwise rational people who just didn’t know how to empty some of the build-up inside their bodies. Clearly, some of the people we read about in the news have pathological conditions that propel them to actions that are far outside of normal. In our 25 years of participation and awareness about grief and related events, we have observed that those pathologically affected people, just like you and me, also suffer from the compacting of feelings inside their bodies. When the emotional content reaches some kind of critical mass, it will explode. Most of us have minor explosions. Maybe we kick a few walls, curse a bit more than we might, or snarl at loved ones who have committed no offence. Some make the news. For yourself, and on behalf of your children and others who are important to you, it’s a good idea to start talking sooner, rather than later. If you tell the simple truth about a feeling, especially a sad, painful, or negative one, before it grows into a mountain, you might find yourself feeling more comfortable more of the time. What a concept. What we need is a benign way to empty the trash before it rots and harms you and others. 


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