Love Languages and How We Grieve
I have a theory about interaction. I believe that almost everything we do in this world is a translation. You may have heard of Love Languages, the ways that we express and seek affection from the important people in our lives, but there’s a whole spectrum of emotions spinning around in us at any given time! What language best conveys frustration? How about explaining listlessness? How do you translate grief?
Grief is naturally isolating, because it calls into question a lot of social events that normally wouldn’t take much thought. Holidays and celebrations become especially confusing when a person I once considered a staple of my life is no longer there. For many of us suffering during stereotypically joyous moments, there can be feelings of guilt, anger, and bewilderment that don’t fit into the situation well. And while venting can certainly help, it doesn’t always feel right to convey pain when everyone else is sharing joy. So even when going out of our way to stay with our support network, the negative emotions that come up can still be used to push away those who want to help.
Even with people in our life who have felt the same grief, humans rarely react identically, so there can still be a disconnect in the translation. What can cause a deep depression in some can stir mania in others, and advice is not one-size-fits all. For myself, I’ve noticed that the only thing I can say when asked what I need is “I don’t know,” because I genuinely don’t know what could ease the storm inside my gut. “I don’t know” also became a shield, because I don’t want to dwell on that storm long enough to find out what can be done. By taking time to recognize how I personally express pain, I’m trying to take the first steps to show others how I heal.
This process is slow and arduous. I need to learn an entirely new syntax to understand my grief. My happiness and guilt are paired together now, while my anger needs to be conjugated before I can understand why it’s there. I’m allowing my sentences to become complex, and there are a lot more conjunctions than there used to be. I’m joyous, but I feel a twinge of loss because I want him to be joyous with me. I’m downtrodden, and yet I know full well that I will be up in kicking soon. I’m in pain, but I am finding happiness.
In translation: Even though talking hasn’t cured me of my grief, it is showing me and those I love the things that make my days better.