Taking Off The Mask: The Guilt of Grief Pt.1

We live in a world of make believe. Nothing is as it seems...and no one wants you to see them for real.

So, we wear masks.

We repeat well intentioned platitudes to calm an anxious mind, not understanding that our words are like pouring fuel on a fire. How does saying "there's no more pain or suffering" help a parent miraculously get over the loss of a healthy child who was not in pain? Telling someone that "things could be worse" or "smile because you woke up this morning" may seem helpful but actually makes a person who's struggling feel guilt for attempting to share their honest emotions.

Toxic positivity has invaded our world while rates for sudden loss, anxiety, and depression have hit all time highs and people are holding it all in. Holding it in is not healthy and eventually leads to imploding. We see stories of people committing suicide and our 1st response is why didn't they say something. Chances are they did and instead of being offered help they were told that they were "strong enough to handle it." A person dealing with grief, anxiety, or depression is not being negative! They are dealing with trauma that must be processed not ignored. In therapy and in deep prayer people are able to share their true feelings without the fear of being judged and usually feel a temporary relief until they have to come out of that room and put the mask back on.

The pain of life had many of us wearing masks long before the pandemic and its time to take them off. We hide behind masks and shadows hoping to camouflage who we really are and what we truly feel. Living in 2020 amidst the threat of impending infection wearing a mask is a necessary form of protection. We walk around in this new reality pretending the weight of the world on our shoulders is not pulling us down. Maintaining the façade is overwhelming.

It is easier to pretend than to let people see us for real because their natural response is to try to fix us and they don't understand that sometimes what's broken can't be fixed. I am learning to accept my make peace with my new reality. Speaking up about our pain is not a lack of faith. Throughout scripture we see examples of God's servants who experienced hardship and used their pain to fulfill their purpose. They didn't mask their pain nor did they wallow in it- they made peace with it.