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  • Writer's pictureMatt

Overcoming Fear of Vulnerability in the Grieving Process

Embracing vulnerability to address our grief can lead to healing, growth and connection

The fear of vulnerability is a common response to loss and grief. It can manifest in a variety of ways, such as feeling disconnected from others, avoiding difficult conversations, and putting up emotional walls to protect yourself. Although it can be difficult to overcome, there are steps that can be taken to help you cope with and work through your fear of vulnerability.

Men, in particular, are often socialised to view vulnerability as a sign of weakness, making it especially difficult for them to work through their grief. All too often, men feel pressure to be the strong one in order to support others, but this can be detrimental to their own ability to process their grief in a healthy way.

Subsequently, It can be difficult for men to acknowledge their vulnerability and open up to others, and seek help. This can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed, isolated, and helpless. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to manage and work through fear of vulnerability.

The fear of being vulnerable is not limited to men, it's a natural reaction we can all experience as a result of an anxiety of being judged or from worrying about how others perceive us.

Understanding Vulnerability in Grief

Vulnerability is often viewed as a sign of weakness, but it is actually a positive thing. That's worth repeating as it is key to becoming more aware of our emotional wellbeing: Vulnerability is not a weakness.

So, a weakness, no. But scary, yes. That's because it requires us to be open and honest with ourselves and others, and to take risks with sharing parts of ourselves we usually keep under wraps. However, embracing vulnerability to address our grief can lead to healing, growth and connection.

When we share our thoughts and feelings openly and honestly, it will help us process what we're feeling and recognise how our grief is impacting our behaviour and our relationships. By doing this, we can begin to take steps towards learning how to manage the negative emotions associated with our grief.

Learning to be vulnerable will also lead to increased empathy, as we become more open to understanding and accepting each other’s perspectives and experiences - leading to stronger, more meaningful relationships.

How To Do Vulnerability

Practice Self-Compassion & Self-Acceptance

Accepting yourself as you are, and learning to be kind to yourself is an important part of embracing vulnerability. Self-compassion involves practising kindness on ourselves, even when we feel like we don’t deserve it.

Self-compassion can help us to recognise and accept our vulnerability without judgement. It can also help us let go of unreasonably high expectations and instead, acknowledge and embrace our imperfections.

It’s natural to experience a range of emotions after a loss. It is important to allow yourself to feel those emotions, even though it can be hard - but don’t be too hard on yourself.

Give Yourself Permission to Feel Emotions

Your grief is an individual experience, it’s unique, as you are. Try not to put any expectations on yourself, give yourself permission to process your emotions without judgement. Expressing what you are feeling will help you acknowledge and process your grief experience.

Suppressing your emotions may feel like you’re keeping a check on your feelings, and keeping vulnerability at bay. However, the reality is that unresolved grief will build up over time and manifest itself in unhealthy ways. For example, this may lead to outbursts of anger or negative self-talk. In addition, suppressing our emotions may make it difficult to form meaningful relationships with others due to an inability to be empathetic.

Effective ways to help you express and process your emotions in a safe and healthy way include:

  • Writing in a journal

  • Drawing or painting

  • Doing a creative project

  • Going for a walk or run

  • Practising deep breathing exercises

  • Listening to music

  • Yoga or meditation

Also, simply talking about your grief experience with a trusted friend or loved one who is a good listener can help you process what you’re feeling.

Learn to Lean on Others

Sometimes it can be hard to embrace vulnerability and reach out for help when you're grieving - but it's important to remember that there are people who are willing and able to offer support and understanding.

Connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences can be very beneficial. Support groups provide a safe space to share your story and know that you are not alone.

They also provide invaluable opportunities to learn from and lean on each other. It can be very empowering to hear the stories of others and know that they have gone through something similar, and are still managing to move forward.

It is important to remember that if you are experiencing grief, you don't have to go through it alone. Seeking support from a professional counsellor, therapist, or grief counsellor can be a great way to help manage difficult emotions associated with grief.

Professional help can provide a safe and non-judgmental space to practise your vulnerability in order to express your thoughts and feelings. They can also help you to identify and manage the underlying emotions and behaviours that may be affecting your ability to cope with your loss.


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