Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's the value in grieving?

This is one of the most common questions I am asked when I begin to work with people that have controlled their feelings all their lives.  What will I get out of this, is another way of asking.  What makes this so hard to answer is that the "pay-off" is nothing that can be seen, touched or measured.  Grieving is a dreaded experience that most people avoid at all costs.  Among the things I personally hate to do most, #1 is throwing up and #2 is grieving.  But they both serve the same purpose, to rid the body of toxins.

I often here "I see no good in feelings at all, they just mess things up";  "Nothing productive has ever come out of my feelings."   So why am I so keen on teaching people how to grieve?  Because, my experience and observation, is that the alternative is worse.  If you control vomiting, you may survive, but the recovery is much longer and, often, more painful. If people don't grieve, they spend their emotional energy on stopping the grief. Very hard to be around, very isolating.

So, the value in grieving is freedom, freedom from constant vigilance, always monitoring one's words and the physical tension it takes to not "ever go there".   It is hard to over-ride the belief that if once started, it will never end and the fear that I will be stuck there forever.   This self talk makes any "value" seem unattainable, or just fantasy.  So what I ask of my clients is a lot, to take the leap of faith that the value in grieving is healing.