Taking Off The Mask: The Guilt of Grief Pt. 2

Hiding hinders healing. I stopped wearing the mask when I reminded myself that I have nothing to prove to human beings and no obligation to conform to this world. And even though I found myself in my room alone many nights, I was never truly alone. Taking off the mask may sound like an invitation to complain but it isn't. It's an invitation to work on healing without the use of cliches and platitudes.

People kept telling me “just breathe” but sometimes that was the hardest part…to keep breathing when it felt like I was drowning. Yet day after day I found a way to keep making it one breath at a time.

Why do people even say "just breathe?" As if I have a choice? You're telling me to do something that my body is going to do whether I want it to or not. To be honest there were many times that I would have stopped breathing if it were up to me.

How about people start sitting in the discomfort with those who are struggling rather than thinking that they can find some magic phrase that will take the pain away.

It starts when we are young... we're told not to cry, stop being a drama queen, and in some families told "stop that crying or I'll give you something to cry about." Crying and displaying sadness was discouraged. And when we do cry we are told to "be strong" as if shedding tears makes us weak. We have been taught throughout life to mask our emotions.

In grief groups I constantly hear mothers say "I'll get through it, I'll just put my mask on." But wearing a mask actually hinders the healing process.

I have met many parents who tried to rush the grieving process and have had serious health complications that have brought them dangerously close to joining their child. Unprocessed trauma weakens the immune system and impacts how we care for ourselves. Taking the time to actually process the pain and deal with it helps us have true healing. Wearing the mask is merely putting makeup over an open wound. There must be a balance between being honest and genuinely seeking to heal. Healing is hard work but is is possible.