I’ve been wanting to write about grief and crying for awhile now. Since I wrote about emotions last week I figured it was time to talk more about this feeling. Yes, part of dealing with depression is talking about these uncomfortable feelings. : /
One of the therapists I first saw shared an observation I’d never noticed in myself. My body was visibly showing my unexpressed grief. My shoulders were leaning in towards my chest. She said it was my body’s attempt to physically protect my heart. You may have seen an exaggeration of this in cartoon drawings of characters who are sad. They’re practically leaning forward, with their arms hanging in front of them, and their head down. I’ve seen people do this, my youngest son included (this is in response to not getting what he wants!). Unfortunately with some it’s become a permanent way of carrying themselves, they don’t straighten up anymore.
This was eye opening for me. I’d never linked the action of bringing in the shoulders with grief or sadness. I associated it with insecurity. Okay, so why am I mentioning this? It has to do with how our body starts to physically change when there’s a prolonged emotion we don’t address nor express. It’s like we become that feeling and we see life through that emotion. In the case of grief, everything looks gloomy. I, for example, gravitated toward sad songs. Anything with a sad theme, actually. I was doing with my grief what I had done with my anger. I was suppressing and channeling it the wrong way. Sometimes I just wanted to cry and cry, but didn’t know the reason behind it. When there wasn’t a valid reason to cry I resisted the tears, and when there was, I felt too ashamed to give myself permission.
Crying is our first non verbal way of telling others we’re uncomfortable and need attention. As we grow and learn to speak, this way of communicating is used less often. In some cultures crying is viewed as a sign of weakness and is discouraged. If you grew up around adults who were emotionally unavailable because of their own issues, crying was enough to incite their anger and frustration. We quickly learned to suppress this way of venting our sadness, especially so if we are people pleasers. What we fail to recognize is what this does to our bodies.
I did research on this because I was curious about why we feel better after crying. I found that emotional crying is the body’s way of restoring balance. Although it’s not fully understood, the theory is that hormones in our body “stimulate” crying, thus releasing a buildup of substances that can be harmful to us. These tears have a higher protein content than those produced to keep our eyes moist.
What I wanna get across here is that crying is part of the grieving process. We may be grieving over the loss of a loved one; through death, separation, divorce, breakup. Maybe our life hasn’t gone in the direction we wanted it to. For some of us it’s dealing with painful trauma. Whatever it is, you need to allow yourself to vent that emotion. Grieve over what was lost (that’s us channeling it appropriately), without feeling shame or a sense of weakness. Think of it like a river that gets dammed up*. After a strong rainfall the accumulated water becomes so overwhelming that it breaks the dam. Our emotions can be likened to rivers. Sometimes they swell, but then they go down. Our “putting a dam”, so to speak, to repress them may seem like a good idea, but in the long run does more harm than good.
*A river fulfills its purpose when it’s allowed to flow. Grief fulfills its purpose when we let it run its course, and that is to help us move forward.(12/7/14)
Things will, and do get better.
Love you guys ; )