I watched a Hoarders episode the other night on A&E. In this episode, a collection of 2500 free-roaming rats have hoarded Glen out of his home and into a shed on his property. And Lisa has hoarded her father’s house both inside and out with more than 30 cats roaming freely through the clutter.
This is an extreme case of things that happen when one denies their own grief.. or doesn’t have tools to process it. We need life long tools so that we can go on being healthy people in the world!
As soon as the rats are gone, he begins to really actually process the grief of his wife, who died years earlier from a heart attack. He blamed himself and had all this pain inside that he never dealt with.
So, what happens when we deny our own grief? We can feel stuck, depressed, anxious, distant, moody, angry and a bunch of other emotions. Grief isn’t just 1 emotion and it isn’t just the 5 “stages” as other therapists might put it. It’s a life long feeling that ebs and flows. It comes and goes. And if we don’t get help or have tools to handle it, we can end up getting stuck in a rut that can last weeks, months, and for some people, years. You can miss YEARS of your life if you never process your grief! Life will pass you by — unless you WAKE UP.
It’s okay to feel bad. It’s okay to feel sad and angry. It’s okay to feel the loss. That’s part of what grief is. But you have to give yourself positive tools to deal with it so that you can go on living like a normal human being.
The lesson here in Glen’s case? Find tools to process your grief – it’s healthy! And it will save you from turning it into a different kind of pain or numbing it out completely. Glen used rats in his denial of his grief to fill the void of his wife.
It’s totally scary to face this feeling, but the more you deny it, the more it will just surface somewhere else.
If you don’t want to talk about it with other people – I suggest channeling it into a journal. It’s a great way to safely express yourself without the fear of the judgement of others, fear of bringing other people down AND you can say whatever you want, no one will see it.
Here’s a few cool ones I found.
Regular ‘ol journals, lined and unlined
Alternative Journals, that encourage you to be creative