Feelings of grief go hand-in-hand with other life losses
After a loss, you might want to shut yourself away from the world, and you may find yourself consciously or subconsciously closing down emotionally to others. After all, you probably don’t want to experience the pain of loss ever again. It’s an effective coping mechanism.
Sadly, unless you've run out of people you care about, the chances are you'll experience grief more than once in your life. This doesn’t just apply to bereavement, either. Feelings of grief go hand-in-hand with other life losses, such as divorce or relationship breakdown, redundancy, moving house, or loss of health.
However, there are some good reasons you should try to avoid shutting down:
It can become very isolating. The very people who are there to support you now have a barrier in the way.
Suppressing emotions inhibits the natural grieving process.
Communication is vital during the grieving process, and withdrawing emotionally may lead to misunderstandings and strained connections.
Grieving involves confronting the pain head on, and emotional shutdown can act as a roadblock to the healing process. By avoiding the necessary emotional work, you are likely to miss opportunities to find peace and acceptance.
Prolonged emotional shutdown may contribute to long-term mental health issues. Unaddressed grief can lead to conditions such as complicated grief disorder, anxiety, or depression. Seeking professional support becomes crucial in such cases.
If you’re grieving the loss of a person, closing off emotions might unintentionally stifle positive memories. It's essential to allow space for both the pain of loss and the joy of shared experiences, creating a more balanced and healthy approach to remembering the person who has died.
Emotional shutdown, if sustained, can make it challenging to form new connections or relationships. The fear of experiencing loss again may prevent individuals from opening up emotionally to others, hindering the potential for future meaningful connections.
Avoid Emotional Shutdown After Loss
While shutting off emotions might seem like a protective measure, it comes with its own set of challenges. Instead, try to strike a balance between protecting yourself and allowing grief to unfold.
Seeking support, engaging in open communication, and being mindful of the potential pitfalls of emotional shutdown are positive steps in navigating grief in a way that promotes healing and connection rather than isolation.
Avoid emotional shutdown after loss by allowing yourself to experience the various emotions associated with loss. And remember, grief is as unique as the relationship you had with the person who has died, or divorced, or your job. No two grief experiences are the same.
Natalie Sullivan is a Holistic Post-Bereavement Transitioning Practitionerner who helps her clients by creating a space in which they can look at their life losses with grace and objectivity. You can find out more about Natalie here.