Grief is not just about death. Sometimes it is the only way to joy.
A lot of times this feeling of the “light blues” (or melancholy mood) can come from not grieving the ‘smaller’ losses in life you have already faced. We often ignore the ‘smaller losses.’
The ‘smaller losses’ of life accumulate.
They can leave us emotionally constipated until they are processed
- You get a new job promotion and you leave the people you loved working with.
- You buy a new house – leaving behind the old, familiar neighbors.
- Your close friend moves with their family to a better job and environment for all of them.
- Conflict with a friend means a hole is left in your support system.
- A tragedy happens across the country and you realize life isn’t as safe as you once thought it was.
All of the above aren’t the type of losses you thought would lead to the blues. But, the truth is, accumulation of losses not processed can pile up in our emotional core.
When you start feeling sad for apparently “No reason” or irritable for “No reason,” it’s important to not ignore those emotions. There is ALWAYS a reason. We just need to slow down long enough to discover cause behind the blues.
My question to you would be, “What has happened in this past year or years?” Another question I would encourage you to think about is, “When was the last time you felt joy in your life?”
What we can learn from the kids’ movie, “Inside Out”
The movie “Inside Out” depicts the blues quickly turning into depression when Riley, the little star of the movie, doesn’t process the sadness she feels about moving from Minnesota to California. She misses her friends. She misses her school. She misses the ability to play ice hockey.
Riley’s emotions of Joy, Anger, Fear, Sad, and Disgust were depicted by wonderful characters who would take charge of her Emotion Control Panel. The character feeling, Joy, did not want Riley to experience Sad. She blocked Sad from being a part of Riley’s memories, as well as from being a part of her current emotional being.
Without feeling Sad, Riley soon was not able to feel Joy. She fell into a depression. The depression even caused Riley to leave some of her playful childhood parts behind. Her Emotion Control Panel was taken over by only Fear, Anger, and Disgust.
“Inside Out” is based upon quality research regarding emotions. Brain scans of people who have been traumatized and have not had therapy, reflect their brains can no longer access the pleasure parts of the brain. Not allowing the brain to process process their sadness led to these people no being able to experience the joyful of life.
Feeling the sadness you feel in life turns on the full spectrum of emotions in the brain. It is a way through the Melancholy Blues and into the Happy of life again.
Giving yourself permission to grieve is vital in order to experience all the emotions available to you.
Ways to Allow Yourself to Become Alive By Allowing Yourself to Grieve
- Make a list of the losses.
- Recognize the things that make you irritable and allow yourself to think about what losses those things might be connected to.
- Write all the ways you can think of that could have prevented the losses from happening. (This isn’t an exercise in logic. – Use your imagination. Allow yourself to dream.)
- Reject the feeling of shame. What you feel loss about is personal to you. Don’t get caught in the trap of comparing losses. Allow yourself to feel what you feel at the depth of how you feel it.
These are small steps you can take to reverse the emotional constipation that has taken place. If your life seems to be filled with a lot of fear, disgust and anger – you know these are steps for you.
Trust me, I know. We all want a short cut through grief.
I want to encourage you.
Give yourself time and space.
We miss you. Come out and play again!
The above is not professional counseling. It is good advice from one who has studied and experienced grief. I am Kate Pieper, LMFT. I am your Brave and Compassionate tour guide for this Journey of Grief. You can contact me firstname.lastname@example.org if you believe you would like to see if I am a good fit for you during this part of your journey.