While we are experiencing the current pandemic in a variety of places and situation, some of the impact it’s having on many of us is almost a sense of not being able to be in touch with emotions about loss after so many deaths and so much news, and feeling almost alone in the process because we are not living the lives we normally do. We are not seeing people, we can’t hug, we can’t do social time.
Let’s face it- there is a lot of emotion in this whole adventure we call 2020, and it’s kind of difficult to do it while locked in, even of a small degree.
The other part of that is difficulty allowing the emotions to rise and release. It can feel a bit scary to let them all out, especially if you are not particularly comfortable with grief or don’t want to think about death and illness. What do we do when we don’t want emotions to surface? We shove them down, ignore them, cover them. We most certainly do not talk about them.
Because talking makes them real. We have to then acknowledge those pesky emotions, and what they are tied to. Even more, we have to acknowledge they may not be just about this pandemic (as if that’s not enough, right?). They may be surfacing from past losses we thought we were done with.
Except you are not done with them. You did not finish the leftovers and loose ends. You didn’t allow yourself to say the words “Goodbye” out loud to them or to their memory. You are still holding onto that perfectly angelic image of them that we are all taught to hold up after someone dies.
Because only perfect people die, right? How is it that only when we are dead that we can be seen as infallible? Because it is not real. The image is not real. You are grieving, not finishing a relationship that is not real with someone who is not real. And that’s not useful, is it?
So, I thought I would gift you the trick to tapping into those emotions and identifying those losses you have left over. In all seriousness, you cannot be done with a loss until you have finished all the leftovers- what plans are unfinished, what didn’t you say, what guilt are you experiencing over their death?
None of that will surface now if you have successfully packed it up and locked the trunk. So now, in a pandemic, with multiple deaths occurring daily, your past loses are showing up in making you irritable, angry, highly reactive, hiding in a corner to manage your emotions, avoiding those who want you to cheer up and be okay for their comfort.
What do I think you should do to tap into those losses, and to get in touch with the emotions still tied up in them?
Ready? Popcorn, blanket, tissues – movies.
Yes, I am serious. Movies are made to reach our emotions base. Loss movies should reach into you and trip that trigger to let the emotions out. Your job is to determine what losses are attached. And then to finish those relationships and to be ready for the ones coming now.
So, as your grief guide in Hollywood, I present you with enough grief movies to get you through at least the next few weeks. Some are children’s movies. Watch them anyway. Sink into the story and feel the feelings. Then take some time to try to determine who in your life loss book is attached as unfinished business, and what that might be. Write it down, journal it, draw it- however you express yourself do that.
Then say the things and say goodbye. You are not leaving them. You are closing out the relationship with your loved one when they were alive. And that will leave room for the losses that are coming at all of us as the pandemic.
We now from the research that those who are prepared to finish each loss as it comes will be better after it is over. That means prior losses have to be done.
I want you to be that person. Here is your movie list:
- Dead Poet’s Society
- Brain’s Song
- The Five People You Meet in Heaven
- PS I Love You
- Steel Magnolias
- Inside Out
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
- Ordinary People
- Terms of Endearment
- Rabbit Hole
- Other People
- Longtime Companion
And Council of Dads, a newer series on TV.
Please remember to go find me on FB and Instagram, and to follow my site for updates on upcoming events. I have a grief support group online beginning in late August, and training for therapists on dementia and conducting support groups in September.