Long-time back, when I watched the movie “Kal Ho Na Ho,” Preity 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. Why do we as a society have to grief shame the people who are not at the bright stage of their lives? I get, it was in good intention but the thing is, personal sorrow 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 his mourning. This friend kept on saying that he is trying to be happy but is not able to. But the point is, “why did everyone give him a feeling that he can just think himself out of the pain?”
Happiness is within you. Is it?
Back in college when I was going through a difficult time in my life. A friend explained 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” ten times. This was the talisman given by my friend to end my distress.
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 anguish, I remember attending a talk on happiness where the speaker kept on quoting, “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 the 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. Since 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 of pressure to be cheerful that the society makes us sad about feeling sad. Isn’t it like losing your sleep for the reason of why you can’t 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 them. 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 and much more.
Everyone is different. Not everyone will understand your emotions. There are people who can’t digest your pain. Their anguish is always ten-times more than yours. 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 agony 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 its time to come out of the sorrow. But there is no right or wrong time for a mourning to end. We need to understand that sorrow can have a space in our life even after years of an incident. Yes, it’s important to talk about your anguish. 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 analyse 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, a conclusion, a solution or even a competition. Yes, it won’t lead to a solution but it shouldn’t lead to an argument as well.
The subconscious knows it all
Recognise the fact that even if you convince yourself out of your sadness, 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, may 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 behaviour. And once their trauma was acknowledged it did help them to bring in change to their life.
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 feeling of accomplishment.
Every day people wake up with sorrow 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 neighbour. In fact, that person maybe you.
Coming to terms with heartache 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 accepting your grief will help 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 councillor. Whatever I wrote here is based on my personal experience. If you think these ideas are not right, you can just disagree and keep surfing the net.