The pain of grief is real. The pain of losing someone you love is intense. It can be like losing a part of yourself. Or that self is in pieces so it seems easier, maybe even safer, to build a wall around your heart so you can never, ever hurt again. In a “What’s Your Grief?” blog entitled, “Warning: Grief Side-Effects May Include Building Emotional Walls,” a wall can be “built on the sometimes conscious, sometimes unconscious, thought: ‘If grief is the price we pay for love, it isn’t a price I am willing to pay.’” And since “it is human nature to avoid pain, there is no judgment if this is something that has been part of your grief. Yes, walls emotionally protect you from grief” but they also separate you from other loved ones, from other relationships, from other parts of life that could bring joy and even hope.
Maybe we can think of this Emotional Wall like the picture above. See the bricks and rocks all tumbled together? The different shapes, some broken, so many textures and colors, maybe even places of repairs. Grief is like that. Our life after losing a loved one to death is rough, hard; it is unpredictable, jagged. And see the window? Through the opening in the jagged wall there is light and green trees and growing plants and blue sky. Is this something to go toward? Is this your hope? Here are four tips that “What’s Your Grief?” wrote about addressing Emotional Walls. 1: Remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Take it slow to think about the idea of moving forward (which does not mean moving on). 2: Address avoidance. This requires a bit of self-reflection and thinking about who is meaningful to you now. Look through the window. 3: Changes need thought and time. It is important to self-assess and to look closely at a possible change. And 4: Acknowledge the reality of potential loss. When “we build walls, we don’t always consciously realize we are doing it to mitigate our anxiety about future pain and loss.” Sometimes the lens of fear keeps us from seeing the green trees and blue skies. What’s on the other side for you? Please know there is more. There is hope.