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Taking Off The Mask: The Guilt of Grief Pt.1

We live in a world of make believe. Nothing is as it seems...and no one wants you to see them for real.

So, we wear masks.

We repeat well intentioned platitudes to calm an anxious mind, not understanding that our words are like pouring fuel on a fire. How does saying "there's no more pain or suffering" help a parent miraculously get over the loss of a healthy child who was not in pain? Telling someone that "things could be worse" or "smile because you woke up this morning" may seem helpful but actually makes a person who's struggling feel guilt for attempting to share their honest emotions.

Toxic positivity has invaded our world while rates for sudden loss, anxiety, and depression have hit all time highs and people are holding it all in. Holding it in is not healthy and eventually leads to imploding. We see stories of people committing suicide and our 1st response is why didn't they say something. Chances are they did and instead of being offered help they were told that they were "strong enough to handle it." A person dealing with grief, anxiety, or depression is not being negative! They are dealing with trauma that must be processed not ignored. In therapy and in deep prayer people are able to share their true feelings without the fear of being judged and usually feel a temporary relief until they have to come out of that room and put the mask back on.

The pain of life had many of us wearing masks long before the pandemic and its time to take them off. We hide behind masks and shadows hoping to camouflage who we really are and what we truly feel. Living in 2020 amidst the threat of impending infection wearing a mask is a necessary form of protection. We walk around in this new reality pretending the weight of the world on our shoulders is not pulling us down. Maintaining the façade is overwhelming.

It is easier to pretend than to let people see us for real because their natural response is to try to fix us and they don't understand that sometimes what's broken can't be fixed. I am learning to accept my make peace with my new reality. Speaking up about our pain is not a lack of faith. Throughout scripture we see examples of God's servants who experienced hardship and used their pain to fulfill their purpose. They didn't mask their pain nor did they wallow in it- they made peace with it.

I’ve worked so hard for my peace and every time I let my guard down someone tries to take the little pieces of peace that I have miraculously found.

So, I protect my peace at all costs...and sometimes a part of that protection requires me to wear a mask. But why must I hide how I truly feel to save others from discomfort? What about the discomfort I live in daily?

We walk around with masks on daily, hiding our faces and shading our eyes. Hiding in plain sight has become the new normal. We ask “how are you” but don’t really take the time to “see” each other. We can’t handle the truth. And the masks hold us hostage- making us slaves to the lie. The exhausting façade of faking it until we make it...the lie that says we should feel guilty for not being happy all the time.

The lie becomes our master whipping us day in and day out to be obedient to Its command. It’s time to take back our power.

Why is it the norm to live a lie?!

We lie and say we are ok…that we are happy…that we are good, when swallowing those words are like swallowing shards of glass.

I am tired of feeling ashamed for not pretending to be “happy.”

Don't get me wrong- there are moments that I do feel happiness...but there are also many moments that I'm not and that I don't. Both scenarios are my complex reality. Why is it ok to share one side of my truth but not the other? There's a place for gratitude and positivity but there must also be space for us to process grief and pain without someone arrogantly assuming they can "fix us."

I am so tired of having to hide the knives protruding from my heart because it makes others uncomfortable to witness my pain. What about me? I’m living this pain! And I'm learning to be ok with it like a person with a facial deformity that no surgeon can fix.

Don’t you think it’s uncomfortable to me? I didn’t do it to myself. I didn’t bring this on myself. So why should I have to wear a mask? Suffering in silence is what increases the likelihood of imploding and giving up. When we give voice to our experience, we find the ability to persevere through it. We take the power back from the experience... we take power back from the lie. But when we can’t face it... when we can’t deal with it – we give it power.

Taking back the power is not about complaining and staying stuck in a low place. It is learning to find peace with reality. It is finding our way through the pain to the solid rock of peace that can be our foothold.

"They encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: "When will come the help of God?" Verily, the help of God is always near!"

"If anyone suffers let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God."

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