For the most part I try to be 100% honest with what is going on in my world – I always have… My mum used to make me write a list of how I was feeling to give to her when I was little, because even then I liked to share what was happening for me!! Those of you that have followed this from the beginning know that I don’t always paint myself in the best light. I own my flaws and faults and I try to be real.
Having said that, sometimes it’s easier to say I’m fine when I am absolutely not, because the person I am talking to is not going to cope with the things I have going on, or because I just don’t want to share my grief with them. Sometimes it’s because I’m well and truly going through a ‘fake it til you make it’ moment, and acknowledging what is actually happening for me will just derail me. Mostly tho if you ask me how I am, I will tell you exactly!
I know that for some people though, keeping up appearances particularly in grief is a much much bigger thing. I guess some feel like it is not appropriate for the world to see your feelings because you’re a man, or older or because you feel judged. Perhaps you weren’t married to your person or had only been together for a short time. Maybe they are a parent or sibling. Perhaps they were sick for a long time. It could be that there are kids involved, maybe it is how you were raised and you just don’t know how to let yourself feel the hard stuff so you suppress it and pretend you’re not hurting – even if that means lying to yourself about it. For some people pretending that none of it is real and not talking about the person who’s death has left a gigantic hole in their world is the only way that they can survive.
I’m not judging, each persons journey is their own. I am certainly not any sort of expert when it comes to this stuff, but I do know for me that if I don’t verbalise and feel what is going on there is no way that I would be able to function. Pushing down my thoughts and feelings will only work for so long before I seem to explode with it, and then it feels like a much bigger thing than it would be if I had just acknowledged it when I felt it.
I also think of it as a way of honouring my person. If I don’t talk about and remember Claytie, who will!? I can’t pretend that his life hasn’t had a profound impact on mine. We were together for almost 30 years and have 4 amazing kids together. There are so many stories and fabulous memories! His life was my life and I can’t and won’t pretend for the sake of everyone around me, that I am not absolutely devastated by his death. I am not capable of putting on any sort of lasting facade and pretending I am ok; but that is my process and who I am.
Grieving for Claytie is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. It takes up almost my whole life these days, and while it is such a hard thing, there is also a kind of comfort in it – he was and always will be the biggest part of my world. I miss everything about him, and I miss the memories that we won’t get to make. Missing him and trying to survive takes up so much of my energy, that I don’t have any left to pretend that everything is hunky-dory and perfectly fine; we’re doing ok, but I need to be real about it. For others though, it is much more important that the world sees them just as they were before and that appearances are kept up and privacy maintained.
I get sad for people that I see, who are more concerned with avoiding their feelings and with how others perceive them than feeling ok about openly acknowledging their sadness. I get angry that there are still so many that think grief has a timeline, and that at some sort of arbitrarily set date you should feel better. I’m disappointed that society isn’t more real and accepting about just how hard this is and I am frustrated that ‘keeping up appearances’ is so ingrained that people don’t think twice about it and how damaging it can be.
There are so many people affected by grief when one person dies. The ripples of that impact spread enormously, and quite often unexpectedly. You should be allowed to feel whatever you need to, without worrying about what others think. If you want a safe place to feel some of those things, I’m here. I have space, I won’t judge and I’ll make you a cuppa… we can cry together xx