Voicing Grief

“It’s important to talk about it.”
-My Dad.  Yesterday.

Whatever the “it” is in your life, it deserves a voice.  This especially applies to the roller coaster experience of grief.

By giving voice to our feelings, we can pass through them and move on to healing.  But with grief, the feelings shift and change and tumble about – let’s face it, they are complicated.  Fortunately, people like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross have given us a framework for understanding the different stages of grief.

I believe that when we understand something, we can find peace with it.  And we can start using our voices to talk or sing about it.

Kubler-Ross’s 5 central stages of grief are:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

But!  Here’s the thing, y’all.  These stages of grief are not linear, they do are not tidy, and they do not happen when we want them to.

They cycle in and out, and we get to experience each of them multiple times.  You may in one moment be white-hot pissed (anger), then jump immediately to “it’s going to be okay, everything will be alright” (acceptance). Or, you can think you are “all done with grief,” and something suddenly triggers an overwhelming crying jag.  You know, the ugly kind of crying that makes your throat ache and your eyes puffy the next morning.  That’s the wacky world of grief.  No fun.

So – the stages of grief are a powerful model for helping us identify it’s parts so we don’t feel so dang crazy as we mourn.  They do not exempt us from feeling our feelings, though – and I’m holding your hand as I say this – you gotta go through it, you gotta let all those feelings wash through you, or they will never fully go away.  You will never fully heal.

We also don’t get to dictate how the stages of grief come and go, and depending on the severity of the loss (which could be anything from a car accident to the loss of a loved one), we don’t get to say how long they will last.

But, we can identify them.  And, if we can name them OUT LOUD, use our voices to express our experiences, we can be empowered by our feelings and not buried by them.  This is why humans need frameworks and models – they help us name our experiences, which helps us understand them, which helps us heal.

Your voice matters, and so does everyone else’s.  I think this is why people are so vocal on social media this week.  We need to talk, and we need to hear the voices of those around us.  As a voice teacher, I know the process of making sound, talking our feelings and experiences out loud, is deeply healing.  There is something profoundly therapeutic about the unique sound your voice makes in the world, and even though I don’t fully understand how it works, I’ve seen people change right before my eyes just by saying how they feel. Out loud.  With their vocal folds approximating, and their breath flowing, and their emotions given voice.  It’s almost supernatural.

I hope this post helps someone who is grieving today.  I hope it helps them understand the confusing, “washing machine” experience of grief, and ultimately be able to name their emotions so they can get through it.  No one needs to stay there forever, and thank goodness we don’t have to.

This too shall pass. If we move through it.

A resource for understanding and healing the heart.

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