JUSTin Time: The Power Behind a Red Door

“Release Emotions”

Continuing on through “Grief’s 5 stages and recovery tasks,” this post deals with emotions.

1. Accept the loss and face it honestly. This also means taking an inventory of other significant losses in the life of the one grieving and considering the secondary losses related to the primary one.

2. Release emotions. Grieve honestly and don’t cover up your feelings.

3. Store good memories. Carry good memories of the person who was lost in your heart. Recovering does not mean forgetting.

4. Separate your identity from the person, from what you have lost.

5. Reinvest in life. Part of the healing process is to begin to think and act outside yourself.

Congratulations, you’ve moved passed denial. You’ve accepted your loss, and now you are mad. Aren’t you lucky.

You might be made at God for letting this happen. Or the doctors for not doing enough. Maybe you’re mad at yourself – survivor’s guilt is very real. It doesn’t matter who you’re angry with, but it will happen. How are you going to deal with it?

I’m not going to dwell much on the negative ways to deal with anger. To name a few, they include binge drinking, fighting with friends/family, loss of job due to emotional instability… let’s not dwell on all of that. Let’s talk positive.

If you’re like me and don’t like to cry in front of people. that’s okay. But don’t hold it in. A very wise hospice nurse could tell I had trouble releasing my emotions and suggested I cry in the shower. It’s perfect. You get your release in private and the water helps reduce red eye swelling.

Music is another great release. Has anyone heard Lea Michelle’s “Cannonball” (view video) yet? The song was one of several that helped Michelle grieve honestly over the loss of her boyfriend Cory Monteith.

I was scared to death I was losing my mind
Break down
I couldn’t close my eyes I was pacing all night, oh, no,
I think I found the light at the end of the tunnel (and my doubts)
I couldn’t find the truth I was going under

Sound familiar? These words – “losing your mind,” “pacing all night,” “going under” – are all indicative of someone struggling with their emotions. The anger can be overwhelming, pushing us so far down that we can’t fathom moving forward. It’s suffocating, like we’re drowning in our emotions.

But I won’t hide inside
I gotta get out, gotta get out, gotta get out, gotta get out
Lonely inside and light the fuse
Light it now, light it now, light it now

What emotions do you have to get out? Anger? Fear? Loneliness? Maybe you just don’t know what you’re feeling, which is okay, too. But if you’re not willing to release your emotions, you may not even fully understand what you are feeling. Even treading water and going through the motions beats that feeling of drowning. You’ll eventually surprise yourself and realize you’re aren’t just going through the motions after all, you’re beginning to heal.

If you’re the creative type, you might get your feelings out in song, painting or writing. If you’re not so creative, perhaps listening to music or watching certain movies is more up your alley. Some people journal, others prefer one-on-one interactions with a confidant.

And now I will start living today, today, today
I close the door
I got this new beginning and I will fly
I’ll fly like a cannonball, like a cannonball, like a cannonball
I’ll fly, I’ll fly, I’ll fly like a cannonball

Once you’ve honestly learned to grieve, that’s when you can begin to move forward. Sure, there will be set backs. These stages aren’t’ like school where you pass one and move on to the next without looking back. It’s more likely you’ll repeat some. But when the foundation is laid and you’ve learned that it’s okay to express your emotions – whatever they are – you may find you feel like you’re just being doused with water rather than drowning in it. Trust me, you’ll notice the difference.

– Kelly

Kelly Hendershot has been active with Gilda’s Club since 2008 as a family member, bereaved, intern, group facilitator and president of the Associate Board.