Some Thoughts on Hiding Grief and Loss
"It's surprising how many people harbour deep emotional grief over various life events. Many view them as "skeletons" in their cupboards and fear the reaction of others if they opened up about the event. For example, many women feel they couldn't possibly share with a partner it past abortion sexual assault."
What damage can be caused by hiding such pain?
"Some people are able to ‘compartmentalise’ hidden grief. It's like they close the door on it and then move on. However most people find it causes them a great deal of distress. Often this happens when something suddenly throws the memory of the event into their conscious mind and catches them unawares. This can cause much anxiety and upset. For others they have a constant sense that there's a stream of memories and attached feelings that ebb and flow out of their everyday life. In such cases they may experience chronic psychosomatic illness like frequent headaches, tummy aches, skin complaints and general stress and exhaustion. It takes a lot of emotional energy to contain all these feelings to yourself. They may also turn to drink or drugs in the long term to "medicate" difficult feelings."
How it can effect relationshps and what sort of knock-on effects can it have if you hide important things like grief or even regret over an abortion?
"There are many long-term effects of hidden grief on relationships. People will develop different "coping strategies" that protect them from really connecting with a partner friend or family. So, for example, they may be one of these people with a perpetual cheery smile who always smooth things over when inside they experience a lot of pain. But actually such coping strategies prevent them from having healthy relationships. If someone cannot share their pain from the past it usually means they won't share pain that occurs in the present. This prevents them from having genuinely emotionally intimate relationship where both partners feel they can build trust to share their most difficult feelings. People with hidden grief often have a string of unhappy relationships that don't end with emotional closure because they simply cannot talk about things when they go wrong."