You are currently viewing Episode 153 – Downplaying your Grief

Episode 153 – Downplaying your Grief

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Have you ever found yourself in conversation with someone and you’re telling them that you’re fine when on the inside you are barely holding it together? Why do we do that?

You also might not allow yourself to grieve as much once you have a rainbow baby or it’s been a while since your miscarriage, stillbirth or babyloss. There are so many ways we downplay our grief and it’s really a disservice to ourselves, the people around us and society as a whole.

On today’s episode I’m sharing why we downplay and how to start being more honest about what this life after #babyloss is really like.

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Music by ZingDog on Pond5


Welcome to today’s episode. Thank you for being here. If you are loving the podcast, will you share it with a loss mom friend? And also leave me a review. Reviews just help people find the podcast and know that it’s amazing and has so many tools. I would really, really appreciate it if you would do that.

Um, I just spent, I don’t know how long, looking for the cord to my microphone, and I found it. My son had taken it, because it is this really random size cord, and it happens to fit these little Gameboys I got off Amazon. They’re like 15 Gameboys. They have all the old games loaded on them and This cord that my microphone has we we figured out fits these Gameboys So I had to go on a search to find my microphone cord, but thank goodness.

It’s working now And I wanted to talk a little bit at the top of the show here about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. I want to know, are you all as obsessed as I am? I think I’ve decided that I am just going to own how invested I am in this. And I think it’s really understandable why this story currently is such a big deal.

Cause number one, Taylor Swift has invited us into. Her romantic life since she was a kid and she’s been so open and has shared and has these songs and we’re all really invested and Also like the world is heavy and dark and there’s just so much going on and it just feels good to cheer for love because I Love love I get I really just do, like, when…

Celebrities are happy. I’m happy when there’s like a breakup. I’m sad and I’m just gonna own it And cheer for them and cheer for all the best I do kind of hate how intrusive we are as a culture right now But I’m really happy that that these two human beings seem to be having a good time together So I’m just cheering for them.

And if you are currently as obsessed as I am Um, just own it, just find your people that want to talk about it with you or annoy your significant other, uh, with it. It’s all good. And I want to just move into our topic, which really is about owning our grief.

Um, and it’s kind of the same, right? Like there’s some sort of weird vulnerability about like just admitting out loud how invested you are in Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce romantic stuff right now. Um, but I want to be really a little bit blunt today, more than maybe I normally am because I have just been seeing this a lot lately and I know it’s something that I have done as well.

I It really doesn’t help. You or I individually, and it definitely doesn’t help our society that is already grief averse and suffering averse, and we just like, we don’t like, well, yeah, we’re weirdly obsessed with negative things. Like, if you look at the news, we’re weirdly like, weirdly, our attention gets caught by negative things, but we also just like, don’t like, um, to hear about sadness and grief in our lives.

Even though we have awareness months and awareness days about all these Challenges that we have in our lives and what it’s like to really face struggles Even though we have apps that show our real lives in contrast to these perfectly curated social media feeds and even though we say We want real connection and honesty from our friends When we are asked how we’re doing Most of us, 99 percent of the time are going to say, fine, we’re fine, right?

We’re good. We’re busy. All these words that basically mean nothing. I remember walking through life in a daze after Lauren was stillborn. It was like I was watching myself from outside my body and something I noticed pretty quickly because if you’ve been here a while you know I am like a people watcher and observer and this is like a superpower that I have as a coach is I can really see.

What is happening in other people’s brains and what’s going on for them? But I noticed pretty quickly that when people ask this question, how are you? They don’t actually want a real answer They don’t they just want you to say you’re fine It’s become a habit or even like well meaning people who would say no.

No, no I really do want to know how you’re feeling They don’t Um, because we don’t really want an honest answer and that might be you, like you might go through life checking in on people and just not expecting much more past. I’m fine. I’m good. I’m busy. And I don’t blame people for this. I don’t blame the people who would ask me how I was doing like two weeks after my full term daughter was stillborn.

I’m not mad at them. It just is what it is. Um. But I’ll add, sometimes I was probably mad about it. I wanted to scream just how much pain I was in. And actually, I remember this one time specifically. There are these two ladies from church who came to visit me just a few weeks after our loss. And I thought they were coming to bring me comfort and to check in on me.

And they didn’t even acknowledge what had happened. They sat there making small talk, and I was so angry when they left. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. How could you spend an hour sitting on someone’s couch and not even ask them? Um, about their baby who died and not even touch the subject. They were so uncomfortable with grief that they couldn’t even go near it.

And I was in so much disbelief that I didn’t even know what to do or say. And I pretty much avoided one of these ladies in, in particular, avoided her until we moved a few years later. I just couldn’t. Yeah, that one really, really bothered me. Um, but on the flip side, there were other times where I didn’t really want to say how I was.

Maybe the person asking did care and wanted an honest answer and I didn’t want to answer. Maybe I didn’t want to burst into tears Or I didn’t feel comfortable spilling my griefy guts to this particular person. Sometimes we don’t feel safe being honest with strangers or those closest to us.

Because we know what will happen if we do. Or we think we know. Right? Sometimes you just don’t even have words to describe what is happening inside your heart. Like you’re barely understanding and comprehending and putting one foot in front of the other, taking one breath after the other, and you just cannot tell people how you’re doing.

So I want to ask you, what about you? Um, how do you talk about your grief or your struggles, right? This isn’t just about our grief. Um, but maybe it’s now you have a living rainbow baby and you don’t feel like you have the right to be feeling the way you are since you got exactly what you wanted. But every milestone reminds you of what you missed with your angel baby.

And it feels like there’s no space for this incredible mix of emotions and thoughts that you are dealing with. How have people reacted when you’ve been honest about your feelings? And in what ways are you protecting yourself by downplaying your grief? It can really feel like too much. People don’t know what to do with you.

They say things to you or about you. You learn pretty quickly just to not say anything and it hurts relationships. You feel lonely and misunderstood. It can’t be around the people that you wish could support you. In a nutshell, the main reasons we downplay our grief is we live in a look on the bright side culture.

The tolerance for grief is quite low for most people. The length of time we are allowed to grieve is also something everyone has an opinion on. At one month, we might get loads of support, but six months or six years, it’s time to be better. We are afraid of our own emotions and what might happen if we’re honest, so we skip it.

And, we don’t feel safe sharing our truth. It’s too vulnerable and we’re too afraid of the reactions we’ll get. We learn quickly to just avoid the subject in order to save ourselves extra pain. And these are all really understandable. So give yourself lots of love if you are in this spot right now, or you have been in the past, or you’re just, it’s all jumbled up.

Understand that being a human is hard for everyone. I like to give others a lot of grace. They don’t know what to say, they don’t know what to do, they don’t like feeling uncomfortable and your grief creates thoughts that make them uncomfortable. And it’s okay to speak up for yourself if you need to.

Open up a conversation, listen to their side, make understanding the goal. We don’t want to go into a conversation where we’re just telling people how they need to act so that we can feel better. That’s what I call having a manual that’s trying to control other people’s actions and it doesn’t work. It really just hurts us.

And our relationships, so we want to make understanding the goal. Of course, this can be really difficult when you are deep in your emotions or you’re in a nervous system response, but I want to encourage you to try it. That’s what I’m here to do as your life coach. I want to encourage you if you’ve been stuck in this pattern, especially and you feel like you can’t get out unless the other people change.

This is the way you get out. This is the answer is. Taking some responsibility and really working on opening up to other people’s experiences as well. The grief is really self centered. It really wants to focus on its own pain and that’s okay because when we know that we can accommodate for it. As you go into this conversation, see where you have similarities.

Notice how you’re both just wanting to be heard and validated. Your person might not have the tools you have because you’ve been listening to this podcast and you know about self coaching. They don’t know that it’s okay to feel all our emotions. They don’t know grief is not a problem. They don’t know that their thoughts create their feelings.

This is truly mind blowing information if you’ve never heard it before. They don’t know that when they are scared, their brain might shut down and their nervous system takes over. They don’t know that they are swimming in a grief averse society that indirectly and directly teaches them to avoid bad feelings.

And even though you might know these things, you still have a human brain that will keep offering you the option to stay in your lower brain, your default brain, your brain that you’ve had all up until you started learning these new tools. So what do you do? What do you do when you find yourself downplaying your grief and finding yourself really feeling like your relationships and your life experience is suffering?

Step one is always awareness. Notice where you downplay your grief. Notice who it happens with the most. Do some thought downloads and see why this is happening. Downplaying our grief is just another form of people pleasing. It’s putting our emotions on the back burner in order to save someone else from being , Corinne Crabtree says this the most bluntly, people pleasing is lying. And like anything else we do, downplaying our grief is really a self preservation technique. We don’t like how we feel when people judge our grief. We don’t like feeling afraid of someone’s reaction, and we don’t like our own reactions.

So we keep quiet and we tell people we are fine because it’s easier, it’s more comfortable. But maybe it’s not. How is downplaying your grief actually hurting your relationships? How is it hurting your relationship with yourself? Where are you telling yourself this isn’t such a big deal and you shouldn’t be so sad?

Other people’s judgments hurt the most when part of us believes them. The way we stop doing this is to be honest with ourselves. Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t judge yourself to some imaginary grief timeline, but be honest about where you are. Check in with your heart. Acknowledge your grief, learn about it, love it, and that’s what we do here on the Smooth Stones podcast.

When we can connect with ourselves and be confident in our grief, it’s going to be easier to share with others if we want to. The truth is you have every option in front of you. You don’t even have to change what you say or how you share your heart. The most powerful shift will be within you. Own your choices.

If you want to say you are fine to the lady in the hall at church, just say it. And do it as a gift to yourself. Choose not to put your energy there if you don’t want to. If you notice your nervous system gets activated around certain people, tend to that first. Understand how it doesn’t feel safe and how you can calm yourself.

Do it on purpose. Recognize it. Journal about it after the fact, after an interaction, and see what you might want to do differently next time. And celebrate your wins, no matter how small. Maybe just showing up and making small talk is a huge win because I remember in early grief how awfully hard that was.

And it can be a win. If you look at it that way and you choose it, right, instead of feeling like I can’t say how I really am because people don’t care, people don’t want to hear it, right, see how that’s like putting you in a victim spot? We don’t need to be victims. We’ve already been hurt. We don’t need to victimize ourselves.

So, when you can own it, it gives you your power back and you choose how you interact with people and then you don’t have to feel awful about it for like days and weeks and maybe years after about how this interaction went.

The most powerful skill we can learn is to be open to all emotions. So many of my clients dread crying in front of people or showing any emotion. Why? Why is it a problem? Figure out what’s going on for you. This is really individual and when I work with my clients, um, this almost comes up every single time is there’s some event coming up and they’re really worried that their grief is going to overshadow it.

And when we ask questions, when I talk to them, when we work through this, they each have really individual reasons why they’re so afraid. And this is something where working with a coach is so powerful because sometimes we’re so stuck in our own brain, we can’t see it, but that’s what I’m here for. But you might also just be really afraid of feeling uncomfortable emotions.

And I want to tell you, they can’t hurt you. Go into your body. When you think about telling someone the truth of your grief, what sensations come up in your body? Where is it? Does it move? What color is it? What energy does it have? What temperature is it? Sensations cannot hurt you. Your brain can’t tell the difference between physical pain and emotional pain, so it tries to avoid all of it.

You have to show your brain little by little that grief is not something to be afraid of. Other people’s thoughts about your grief are not something to be afraid of. You have got this. And I want to finish this episode by talking about looking on the bright side. This isn’t a terrible thing to do if you come from a good place.

I truly believe there are tender mercies all around us. I believe that if you’re breathing right now and listening to a podcast on your electronic device. Maybe with some wireless Bluetooth headphones in a safe place with running water and a heart that’s beating. You have so much to be thankful for. We can be grateful.

Notice the good in our lives, the little miracles, the small joys, and we can own our grief. We never want to use positive thinking as a weapon against ourselves, but we can use it as a gift for ourselves. The better we can become at holding space for a real, true, full human experience and have the courage to express what that’s like, the better off we all are, the better off we are individually.

In our own lives and as a society, because honestly, you are going to blow people’s minds when they see you talking about your baby who died and, you know, how emotional pregnancy and infant loss awareness day was, and also like laughing and telling jokes in the same conversation, like People don’t know how to do that.

People don’t know that that’s possible, but you can show them and you can be that example and you can give them permission to do the same. And they’re going to know that you’re a safe place and a safe person that they can talk to. This is how we change the world. This is how we change society. This is how we make things better from here on out.

This is possible. It’s possible for you. I am sure of that. I have no doubt if you are really struggling with downplaying your grief and not having the support you need and you’re just tired of trying to figure this out on your own. Let me help you come to a connection call and we’ll talk all about it.

I’ll tell you about my lift program and and how we can get you feeling confident, supported and hopeful again. There’s a link in the show notes or you can go to smoothstonescoaching. com or come find me on Instagram. I’m at amy. smoothstonescoaching and I love to chat through DMs and talk about what’s going on for you.

Um, I truly love you, every one of you that is listening and I thank you for being here and I just want to say you don’t need to downplay your grief. You can own it. You can share it how you want to, but your experience matters. You matter and you’re not messing this up. You can’t do this wrong. It’s hard.

It’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to be in the society we’re in and try to navigate this, but you don’t have to do it alone. I’ll see you next time.

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