After all, we live in a culture of perpetual youth and denial of our own mortality.
Forty is the new thirty, celebrations of life rather than funerals, weekend warriors, and ultimate sports – life is not for the faint of heart.
It seems as though sadness is a marginalized emotion. It is the most discriminated emotion of our emotional spectrum. Being sad, like being overweight, is something that we tend to look down our noses at.
Our culture is so fast paced, that after three days we’re expected to suck it up and get back to work following the loss of a loved one. Sadness is not ok. That’s the message.
Not only that, funerals have turned into grand celebrations where smiling and laughter are the ultimate tribute to those who have shed their mortal coils. Sadness is something we do behind closed doors. There is shame associated with it and we tend to express sadness in private – kind of like smoking.
Deaths and funerals offer us a variety of rituals that embrace sadness, acknowledge the loss to our communities, and create space for sadness.
Parents are famous for saying, ” I don’t want to cry in front of the children”. Why? Don’t worry about answering sweeties, it was a rhetorical question. Trust me, I’ve heard it all.
If you can’t show your children how to cope with real, gut-wrenching sadness (an emotion that none of us are immune to), how will they learn to cope? Seriously.
The answer is that they won’t learn, and they will likely perpetuate this appalling harder, stronger, faster culture of robotic functioning, falling victim to their emotions through addictions, unhealthy relationships or an eventual complete emotional breakdown.
Every single one of us will have to say good-bye to a loved one at least once during our lifetime. That’s even more certain than having to have ‘the talk’ with your kids. We’re all guaranteed death, but not so much good lovin’, if you know what I mean.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denying that laughter and smiles have their place during the grieving process, but I am saying tears, sadness and all of the not-so-pretty emotions (anger, self-doubt, fear) have an important role to play during healthy and whole grieving.
The next time you feel like crying, like pulling the covers over your head and never getting out of bed, think about how you’re coping, and how the people around you cope.
I’m sure you’ll agree, we can do much better.
As it turns out, sadness is not for the faint of heart. Sadness is not for sissies. To be strong enough to allow yourself to be vulnerable takes incredible strength.