It’s Okay Not To Be Okay
Updated: Apr 21, 2021
In attempting to be "strong" or be strong for others, most people hide their feelings. In effect, when we act strong and cover up our honest emotions, we are lying to those we interact with, and most importantly, we are lying to ourselves.
Real strength comes from knowing how to acknowledge and communicate our feelings and not bury them.
Grievers are often praised for appearing stoic or unswayed by tragedy. A surviving spouse may have a tremendously difficult task of staying focused while making funeral arrangements, but being focused and being strong are not the same.
Josh was Jewish, and in keeping with tradition, his funereal took place 48 hours after his passing. I was still numb and going through the motions. One friend referred to me as a stoic Jackie Kennedy. Resembling strength and grace the day of President Kennedy's funeral. The truth was, I was still in shock and on medication to help me from not jumping into his grave with him.
-Hiding your feelings stops you from taking actions that lead to your recovery
-Hiding your feelings implies that there is something wrong with your feelings
-Hiding your feelings means lying to yourself about heartache
-Hiding your feelings means you are not being truthful with other people either.
DO NOT HIDE YOUR FEELINGS!
I am a tremendous advocate for feeling your feelings. I have always been this way, even before my losses. But feelings of grief were emotions I had never felt before, and at times I was astounded that I was able to breathe with my shattered heart.
Some days I'm not okay. And I have come to realize that not being okay while grieving is okay. It is a natural and normal process.
I have learned that a significant key to recovery is to process every feeling the moment you have it. It does not require any special skills to tell the emotional truth about what you are feeling. For example: "How are you?" "I'm having a tough day, thanks for asking." The answer is truthful but does not invite any help or advice. And the last thing a griever wants at times is advice - am I right?!
On the days when I am not okay (which still happens on occasion), I responded honestly to people.
"I'm feeling sad today, but don't feel like talking about it. Thank you for asking"
I'm feeling sad today, but if I start to talk about it, I'm may not be able to stop crying.
I'm feeling a little down today. Can you talk? Or Can you sit with me and listen?
Or I will say: "Not a good day," and my family and friends know what I mean!
Telling the truth about how you feel sends a powerful message to the people around us, including our children. It tells others that it's OK to express normal human emotions. You can't recover from loss unless you are honest.
When you say, "I'm fine," but you're not, you have sent a very confusing message.
You can be human.
Always remember. It's okay, not to be okay.