Happiness is within you. Is it?
Stop Grief Shaming
Long-time back, when I watched the movie “Kal Ho Na Ho,” Prity Zinta was often told by Shahrukh Khan to smile. He reasoned it out by telling her that whatever she had may seem less to her but to someone else it will seem like abundance. But my question is, why do we as a society have to grief- shame the people who are not at the bright stage of their life. I get it, it was in good intention but the thing is, grief is not a calculation. It is not about who has more or less. It’s just an emotion and we all have our own ways to deal with it.
Last month my friend’s mother died. When I called him, he said that people have told him to try to come out of the grief. This friend kept on saying that he is trying to be happy but is not able to. But the point is, “why didl everyone give him a feeling that he can just think himself out of grief.”
Happiness is within you. Is it?
Back in college when I was going through a difficult time in my life. A friend explained to me that you don’t need a reason to be happy. Happiness is within you, she said. Just smile. Stand in front of the mirror and say I am happy 10 times. This was the talisman given by this friend to end my sorrow.
But why will someone think that we don’t need a reason to be happy? When, grief actually came with a reason. How is it that happiness won’t need a reason to come into our lives? I remember desperately trying to cheer myself up at that time. In my quest to end my grief, I remember attending a talk on happiness where the speaker kept on quoting that “happiness is a decision.” I understand maybe in normal circumstances if there is a day you are feeling blue for no reason these talks may work. But when you are mourning a loss, you can’t just decide to be happy. It’s just not possible. Why do we forget that grieving is important? It helps us release pent-up emotions.
In no way I mean that sadness or grief is the ultimate emotion. I just mean you have to be real to yourself. We all are different and can mourn our losses in our own ways. It’s not a competition, not even something to be proud of. It’s just as it is. It is grief. From childhood we are taught to run after shiny objects. Our parents never wanted us to be friends with the kid who flunked classes. This went on till the extent that we even want our emotions to be shining all the time.
We have so much pressure to be cheerful that the society makes us sad about feeling sad. Isn’t it like losing your sleep thinking why you are unable to sleep? Can this thought process ever help? How you process a certain emotion is on you. It’s ok if you don’t feel like saying phrases like “whatever happens, happens for the best” or “everything happens for a reason.” Who knows, what is the reason? We just know that things happen and we can’t do anything about it. That’s life.
Fake positivity can do more harm than good. If not checked it can take different forms like- anger, anxiety, physical pain, regret.
Everyone is different. Not everyone will understand your emotions. There are people who can’t digest your grief. Their grief is always ten-times more than your’s. If you have a stomach ache they have had stomach cancer in the past. And they will want you to feel bad about feeling sad for such a trivial thing in your life. You don’t have to convince them that you are feeling a sense of loss. Remember if you need to prove your grief to someone, better not talk to them at all. The talk about grief is not about whose loss is bigger or whose loss is real.
Even well-meaning friends can say things like, they will like you to smile. Or it’s time now to come out of the sorrow. But there is no right or wrong time for a mourning to end. We need to understand that grief can have a space in our life even after years of a loss. Yes, it’s important to talk about your grief. But remember it’s entirely up to you if you want to talk to someone or not. You can always decide not to talk to a friend if you think she/he won’t be able to understand it. You need to analyze carefully, with whom you can talk safely.
One thing to be noted here is that talking about your grief should not lead to an argument, conclusion, a solution or even a competition. Yes, it won’t lead to a solution but it shouldn’t lead to an argument too.
The subconscious knows it all
Remember even if you convince yourself out of your grief your subconscious remembers it. Our subconscious creates so many things around us. I remember watching a show on hoarding on the YouTube channel, “Only Human.” the doctors in the show said that people who have not been able to feel their loss, develop unhealthy habits like hoarding, compulsive shopping and other compulsive disorders. There were those in the show who were not aware of the reason for their habits. All they knew was they couldn’t stop the destructive behavior. And once their trauma was acknowledged it did help them to modify their lifestyle.
I am not saying that you need to watch that show or everything the show says is correct. I just want to say that the feeling of loss is as important to feel as the feelings of accomplishment.
Everyday people wake up with grief and tend to brush it off as they attend to their daily chores. As a result, it can’t just disappear. it takes different forms. It can make the person numb where a person has trained themselves to numb the emotions so much that they don’t feel it. They had been disappointed by their feelings so much that they tend to cover them up. You won’t know who they are. They are among us, they smile because they were told that the feeling of grief is a failure. That sadness means they did something wrong. They may be your friend, your neighbor. In fact, that person may be, “you.”
Coming to terms with grief won’t mean that you will just forget your loss. Or that you will become so happy that you will say it’s good that it happened. It’s just that you will feel comforted if you come to terms with yourself. In a culture of, how to wake up positive? How to be happy? How to let go? How to get over it? Can we accept that grief is not about getting over it? It is just about getting on with it.
I am not a licensed medical professional or a grief counselor. Whatever I wrote here is related to my personal experience. If you think these ideas are not right, you can just disagree and keep surfing the web.