I’ll start the long overdue writing of Part Two of Permission to Grieve by giving myself permission to be kind to myself for taking so long to write this!! Onto the writing….
As mentioned in Part One, Part Two has 3 parts – a new look at selfishness, challenges and a couple surprises that may come when one gives oneself permission to grieve.
That phrase we all fear hearing…
“You are so selfish.”
I find it curious (and a bit amusing) when I think about how often I feared being told or having someone think of me as selfish and, yet, miraculously, I have never ever been told I was selfish. Perhaps some people have thought it, but overall, the ratio of my fear to the reality of anyone saying or thinking I am selfish is more than a bit lopsided.
I think it is fairly safe to say that most people, particularly women, have internalized society’s messages about not being selfish to mean they need to be self-less. As in – don’t consider personal needs or desires or care until every last family member, friend and stranger is happy, healthy, and rich. Which, of course, means we never get to our personal needs, desires, or care because we’ll never be done helping everyone else. (Ok, perhaps not quite that extreme, but fairly close!)
This has never made sense to me.
I could do this I suppose. I think I’ve tried a few times. When I’m truly honest, however, I like being selfish. I like having my needs met. I like being nurtured and rested and loved and healthy. AND when I am rested, nurtured, loved, and healthy, I do a much better job caring for, supporting, and helping those I love and the strangers on the street. When I’m being all self-less and am tired, crabby, and stressed, not only do I not want to care for others but I do a crappy job of it. It’s an odd little paradox but being selfish allows me to be selfless I am much better able to help those around me in their grief when I’ve taken care of myself in my grief.
Play with selfishness a bit – I’m curious to hear what you discover.
Challenges to make it interesting
Here’s the tricky thing about giving yourself permission to grieve – it’s not other people who get in your way.
We are the ones who tell ourselves we can’t take care of ourselves, we’re the ones who say this and that and the other thing have to be done first, we’re the ones who tell ourselves we’re not worth it. We are the ones who chose believe what other people tell us – that we should be done grieving or that what happened isn’t important enough to experience grief over or that it’s time to “get over it.” We put other people’s opinions about our grief process and our experience rather than listening to our own knowledge and wisdom.
We are the biggest blocks to allowing ourselves to truly grieve.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned (and learned the hard way) – it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. People can tell us to “get over it” or “move on” or tell us to just keep busy and not think about it. People cay say thing such as “well, you’re young yet, you’ll have another baby” or “at least you had so many good years together” or a million other things that dismiss our pain. In the end, when it matters, only we can decide to dismiss our pain and our experience. Only we can decide if our health and our growth and our love for ourselves is important enough to go through and experience our grief.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is easy (that’s why it’s in the challenge section!). It is, however, our choice. Only our choice. Whatever the people around us or the critical voices in our head say, we choose whether or not to allow ourselves to grieve.
Some surprises I discovered
What surprised me the most after I finally gave myself permission to grieve was that most people in my life were extremely supportive. I had all these critical voices in my head telling me that people would think I was crazy or that they wouldn’t understand and on and on. What I found in reality was that most of the people closest to me were extremely supportive and understanding. A couple actually told me “it’s was about time!”
Where there a few people who thought I was “just feeling sorry for myself” or “stuck in the past” and all those other things I feared? Sure. And they were far outnumbered by the number of people who supported me.
The other thing that surprised me? Many people didn’t even notice that I was going back and dealing with all this old grief. I think I had this idea that everyone would notice or have to know and it would be this huge thing. It really wasn’t. I grieved, I cried, I had some friends who sat with me through the tougher times, I learned to take naps. I also went to work and went to classes and bought groceries and got my oil changed. The whole world didn’t need to know and the world didn’t stop AND I could still grieve and heal.