When Hiding Grief is an Academy Award Performance

“We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the clouds. But I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad.” ~John Green

When someone close to us dies, there is an initial outpouring of love, sympathy, and support from friends and family. This helps us get through the first onslaught of grief that can be overwhelming, sometimes leaving us struggling to even put one foot in front of the other.

Yet, after a while, once the funeral is over and “enough” time has passed, our friends and family get on with their lives leaving us to grapple with this unfillable hole in our hearts.

hiding grief as performance

Our pain is still there and is 100% real for us. Sometimes the pain is even more crushing once the dust has settled and the expectation is that life continues as normal, when deep in our hearts we know it can never be the same.

The unfortunate truth is that some people really don’t understand. They have this expectation that we can just pick ourselves up and get on with our lives, almost forgetting that a deep loss has even occurred. But often, they haven’t forgotten, they just don’t want to talk about it anymore, or are uncomfortable with your grief.

“And the Oscar Goes To…”

So, what do we do? Well, often, we “get on with our lives” giving a performance as though we are fine, when really, we are not. To protect others and sometimes even ourselves from the strong emotions of grief, we hide it. We shut our grief down. We turn it off, and suppress it into the deep recesses of our hearts only letting it out when we are alone and cannot be seen by another living soul–even our family members.

This becomes a performance of acting in a way we feel will protect the feelings of others and keep from disappointing them with our inability to move on and “get over it”.

Our Performance Can Convince Everyone–Even Us

And we can become good at it. Sometimes we convince even ourselves that we are fine. We tell ourselves that if we can just fake it until we make it, then all will be well in our world and time will do its healing magic.

However, and this is a big however, this “Academy Award Performance” of doing well will not serve anyone, especially the griever. We cannot act ourselves out of grief by pretending and by being less than authentically honest and real about our feelings.

As a society, we need to stop supporting the suppression of grief with reward and learn to accept, support and encourage recovery through honest relating and sharing of true feelings.

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