A repeated message on this blog is that you will move forward in your grief to heal mind, body and spirit by 1) telling your story over and over again and 2) feeling and expressing your emotions. Now there is a movie, Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, which brilliantly supports the notion of acknowledging and expressing your feelings in order to heal.
The gap between what we feel inside and what we show the outside world is exemplified in a grief work activity using masks. The bereaved are instructed to draw on one side of the mask (a paper plate) a picture of what they are feeling on the inside. The participants then turn the mask over and they are asked to draw a picture of what they actually show to the outside world.
In almost every case, the two sides are drastically different. The feelings depicted on the inside often include anger, sadness, confusion and frustration while the expression the bereaved show to the outside world is one of laughter and happiness.
Slapping on a smile for others, while inside you are feeling sadness and despair is exhausting and inhibits grief work. We move through our grief by acknowledging and expressing our true feelings and this is so ingeniously portrayed in Disney/Pixar’s animated movie, Inside Out. The creators of Inside Out are spot-on about how grief operates and we can all learn a great deal from the movie to help us heal.
The most important message of the movie is that when we experience a loss or transition, it’s not only okay to feel SAD, it is an extremely important and a very necessary part of being able to feel JOY again. In other words, sadness can lead us to joy. We are reminded and convinced that it’s okay to be sad.
This message is more challenging than it sounds as the outside world wants us to be “fixed” and happy and to be like we were before the death or loss. A death or a loss changes us forever so we cannot ever be like we were before the death. We can be happy once again, but not until we feel and express our sad, angry or fearful emotions.
If you haven’t seen Inside Out, do yourself a favor and watch it. Then feel your feelings and express to the outside world what you are feeling inside. You will learn that it is not only okay to let you’re inside feelings out, but that it feels good.