I recently lost a friend suddenly, unexpectedly and inexplicably. Another beautiful soul taken too soon from this mortal world. Another wasted shining light that will be sorely missed. An unseen heavy right hook connecting hard on my emotional glass-jaw.
Yet for a few days I was numb. Not that I wasn’t upset or saddened. Stupefied would be accurate. Like that dazed shock period immediately following a serious injury, before the blood flows and the pain starts.
And then that it did.
I was lying in bed, not sleeping as usual, and I realised I was distracting myself from thinking about it. My mind would drift to the last times I’d seen them and I found I was forcing myself to think of something – anything – else.
Because I was scared.
I was scared of grieving; again. But not just fearing grief. I was scared of grieving someone else. For some unknown fucked up internal reasoning, I was upset, indeed angry with myself for even thinking that it was Ok to cry over the loss of anyone else other than Renee.
As soon as I realised the absurdity of this and that there are no scorecards or hierarchy to grieving individuals, well, the floodgates well and truly opened. And it was like few other times before. There was no gentle weeping and dabbing daintily at the corners of my eyes. No sir-ee; we are talking eye popping, snot dribbling, breathless, heaving, sobbing mess 2.0
Which frankly shocked me to be honest. I hadn’t completely broken down like that for quite some time and wasn’t, at the time, really sure what the fuck was going on.
But as they say, (“they” can be righteous bastards sometimes), hindsight is a beautiful thing. It was after the snot bubbles dried up and my eyes stopped looking like I’d punched 30 cones, that I came to understand why I had exploded in such way.
Because I hadn’t been letting the existing grief out often enough. I had been pushing it down, bottling it up, brushing it under the carpet or whatever other cliched term you can think of, and not “micro-grieving” at the times it was needed. (did I just coin a phrase??😂) So when I finally made the semi-concious decision to allow myself to be upset over the loss of my friend, all that built up grief compounded the new and resulted in a catastrophic explosion of tears, dribble and snot.
And as horrible as that image that may now be forever imprinted on your brain is, there is no mistaking how bloody good I felt afterwards.
Because when we cry we are validating our emotions, we are acknowledging who we are and what we feel. We are releasing pain, frustration and negative energy. And whether you believe this or not, surely a few more frequently expunged tears and refind meltdowns are preferable to an eye bulging, not-for-public-display, dribble fest exploding from your head at random?
I highly recommend to anyone who may be grieving the loss of a loved one right now; don’t hold it in. Don’t think that by ignoring that sadness that you are “getting better” or “healing”. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t dissipate down to a single tear on an anniversary. It builds inside and festers. It must be let out, the pressure released. So when you feel that inexorable gut churning mass build inside, let the bastard out; before you blow up into a vein popping snot monster.
There is obviously nothing wrong with letting yourself have a good solid, wailing banshee session every now and then, but take it from me; the emotional bumps and bruises sustained from this micro-grieving approach, pale in comparison to the anxiety ridden build up and subsequent fatigue and exhaustion when the volcano of disregarded emotions finally blows; snot bubbles and all.