Of Happiness and Grief

We live in a time of mindfulness and meditation, journaling, yoga classes and more endless must do’s in order to achieve or maintain happiness. I like to call it “the pursuit of happiness syndrome”.

Happiness is promoted heavily; it’s the new norm and has become a commercial product.

One shall be happy.

It seems we are not tolerant of unhappiness, not comfortable with loss and grieving nor sadness and the openly flowing of tears.

Yet each day we all say goodbye to yesterday, to things that never will be again and minutes that the clock can’t turn back to. We lose loved ones, pets, jobs, homes, health, dreams, money, roles we once held, and identities we formerly adopted. We lose our way in more ways than one and surely more than once in our life time.

Empty nest syndrome, mid life crisis, job redundancy, financial crisis, loss of a parent, child or partner, childhood trauma, a failed study, disappointment, emigration, displacement due to conflict or natural disaster, change in career, divorce or relationship traumas are all examples of grief causing situations that are very commonly encountered by many of us. We all know feelings of grief. It is human.

Looking back we may feel relief, but also sadness or despair, guilt and longing, we may feel angry or may not be able to feel anything at all. Small or large things that need to be processed in order for us to move on well balanced and richer in self knowledge, a lesson learned. But how often do we suffer in silence, swallow it away; as there is nowhere to go and do it openly or we don’t want to bother anyone with it. Numbness may hold us strapped in one place and unexpressed grief can fester.

 Time may heal but only if we engage in healing by working through our grief and accept it for what it is, in our own way and at our own pace.

There is the saying “One cannot see the rainbow if the eyes have seen no tears” and this illustrates the fact that sad times and loss are part of life as much as happy times and lead to different points of reference and thus to growth in the person we are.

There is value even in adversity, loss and grieving and however much we would like to avoid them all together; they are going to be part of our life.

I can see that many people today struggle to admit they are sad or grieving. They may not have learned to cope with adversity or they may feel embarrassed about expressing their feelings in amongst the happiness hype. It may cause them to feel inadequate in coping with life itself. They trot on with brave smiles and fake optimism. But all this does is suppressing the true emotions that are felt deep within.

I envision them sitting on the lid of a large rubbish bin containing their rumbling feelings, their anger and anguish, their tears and loneliness and their guilt. Holding that lid on tightly day after day…..year after year costs enormous energy. And as their bin gets fuller they find it increasingly difficult to find enough energy to just get through their day and function optimally while keeping that lid on.

Not only does it take energy to keep that lid down, it also means that what is in that bin is not gone at all, it is sitting there unprocessed. So any time something happens that triggers a memory or opens a wound the rumbling in the bin gets louder and some of the old emotions may come back bubbling up.

A seemingly small incident can then cause an enormous unwarranted emotional response, they may become irritable or fly off the handle at a loved one or the tears start coming and they won’t stop just because a word said or a situation encountered triggered the grief long held.

Grief, loss, feelings of abandonment and loneliness are at the heart of many physical and mental issues. I can see an epidemic coming on due to the fact that in today’s world we are expected to be happy full stop. Any emotions to the contrary are not acceptable and if you are not happy you fall outside of the norm or you weren’t practicing mindfulness and should start journaling.

Unprocessed grief is also a reason why many problems people see a doctor about cannot be healed with a prescription. There may be a temporary reduction in discomfort but the medication needs to be ongoing in ever stronger doses to have the same effect. And that effect is suppression of the expression of the true issue yet again.

I love what Homeopathy can achieve in these situations. Firstly because a client will have time to talk and express themselves freely in a homeopathic consultation; often the first opportunity they have to do so without being judged. And secondly because a homeopathic prescription will be aimed at the root of the problems they are experiencing. However long ago that was.

Many a time a client will feel themselves ‘peeling back the layers of the onion of their lives experiences”  to uncover the origin of their problem. And then a homeopathic remedy will support them to process that issue in order for them to be able to truly move on from it.

Clients tell me they sleep better, have more energy, feel more peaceful and have more clarity in their present day activity once grief has truly been processed.  And consequently their health improves.

Happiness is a lovely thing, however you’ll enjoy it more if you are able to comfortably reflect on times that weren’t all that happy and realise how far you’ve come, without being tipped into the turmoil of it all again as now you can just accept those times for what they were and move on.

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Esther Ritmeester DipHom, R.Hom.Int

Esther's Homeopathy Clinic

Esther Ritmeester DipHom, R.Hom.Int