It’s impossible for me to suppress feelings of grief or loss. Even if the losses seem irrational, unreal or invisible. I don’t believe that it’s a healthy habit to smooth over or pretend hurt doesn’t exist. Can you grieve the loss of something that you crave so desperately but that you’ve never actually had?
Well I do and I’m certain that I’m not the only one. It can be a complicated and isolating type of grief. Most people typically don’t dive head first into the deep end of life’s sad realities. When your grandmother dies, and you’re grieving, it’s perfectly acceptable and understood that those around you will outwardly express their sympathy with hugs, cards, tears, and conversations. However, when some life event or experience sparks the brush pile of your invisible loss, the hidden flames of sadness often have the fuel to grow pretty quickly.
Only those who know you in the most vulnerable way may ever recognize the flames. Perhaps nobody will ever know.
Sometimes specific settings or conversations or experiences can shake you up. It can feel like you’re driving over a giant pot hole. You can prepare yourself beforehand, but you know that it will inevitably jar your spirit and temporarily hurt. Always. Just like a familiar pothole on that street that you have to drive through. The feeling of bracing yourself for the broken road doesn’t go away. Maybe ever.
In humans, like me, it feels more like a heart hole.
On some bright and sunny days, you can maybe handle one of the heart holes. You might swerve around it to avoid it. Maybe leave the room at the perfect time or don’t ever walk into the room where that routine casual conversation is not so casual for you. Because it hurts. Because you have an open wound that’s tender, and perhaps it won’t ever heal. You can try and plug up heart holes, but it’s only a temporary fix. They always come back.
Grief hurts. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Hurt slowly burns. Then, it can leave your eyes dry and your heart and body all sore and achey. When my husband opens his arms and holds me and let’s me cry the tears, my real tears, mean a loss is a loss. His presence tells me that it’s okay to feel the invisible weight of hidden or invisible losses. I don’t have to justify them to anyone to know that my pain is real. Validated. Visible. Even if I have never received sympathy cards. And most likely, never will.
I don’t want to take my pain or losses out on anybody else. That’s one of the reasons I write and how I experience the unfathomable joy of this world along with the deep pains too.
I can sit with my son as he draws a “ginormous smile” on himself in his picture. The green marker smile goes off of his stick boy drawing and around and around the scene because “he’s that happy.” And so am I sitting next to him. Then as suddenly as a car shifts into second gear, I can drop him off at preschool and then switch gears and cry until I reach my husband’s embrace. There’s something so healing in these kind of tears. I can cry some more because he understands my grief. Because of how deeply he cares for me, my struggles become his struggles too. He rides over the broken parts of the road, sitting right next to me. And this makes me cry all over again. Grateful tears for his endless love for me.
I am aware that I am not the only one who grieves the losses that nobody ever saw. I know this. So, I share to let another know that it’s okay to hurt. And it’s okay to cry. And it’s okay to be upset and grateful and joyful. We are beautiful, complicated beings. Why would our emotions and feelings not be overlapping, entertwining, connecting and complicated in the same way as our physical bodies?
Ready or not, here I come. It’s a bit like hide and seek grief. You may unexpectedly stumble upon one of your losses hidden away in the closet or the cabinet up high. Or perhaps somebody else will unintentionally reveal one of your hopes, dreams unfulfilled or losses. I hope you will give yourself permission to grieve. And I hope you will let another share the extraordinarily heavy weight of your invisible loss so that it may become more bearable.