There is no way to stress enough how important permission is to living life fully or to managing ourselves as we encounter difficulty.
There are so many opinions about you, your life and your choices and so many who are very willing to weigh in on what’s best for you.
We are so often so quick to say what others ought to do and how they should or shouldn’t act. We are so ready to determine and decide when it comes to someone else.
Where you and your life are concerned, there are far too many opinions and far too many “experts”.
Permission is essential to understanding that we have choices and options, and it is the most valuable tool that I know of for recovering from loss or trauma.
Let me focus on grief although, the thoughts here can be applied in many places where permission will make a difference.
Those who are grieving the death of someone they love are told how they ought to act and react and how they need to feel. They are told when they need to stop grieving and what face they need to present in public. In fact, where your sadness is concerned there are so many who are happy to tell you what to do.
Michael came to me a while back and wanted to talk about his wife’s death.
My friends and family tell me it’s time to get on with my life but I still feel crushed. They tell me that I need to see other women but I just miss my wife. They tell me to throw out her clothes, but I like them close to me. They tell me so many things but all I can do is feel sad.
What if Michael’s family and friends told him to grieve and to do what he needs to?
What if they simply stayed close and told him not to worry about tomorrow. What if they assured him that when he was ready and when he was finished hurting, tomorrow would still be there?
How about this?
Michael, it is obvious to us that you hurt and still miss Cynthia very much. We wish you felt better and really want you to be in a spot where you can move forward, but we understand and respect that you struggle and that life is very mixed up and painful for you. We will stay close and support and encourage you. Please do and feel what you need to. We want you to know that it’s difficult for us to see you so sad and we want you to understand that Cynthia’s death is difficult for us too.
Michael now has permission to heal on his schedule and he understands that there is a lot at stake here for his friends and family too. No one has to pretend and act like things are ok when they really aren’t. He can and will heal in time by being honest and by doing his grief work. (The three Rs) By receiving the permission of those close to him, he will feel the benefit of a supportive, understanding environment.
As soon as Michael and his friends and family begin to talk honesty and openly to each other about their feelings and their needs, so much will come together and so much will become possible.
No one will need to pretend or offer silly advice spoken only out of discomfort or a need “to say something”.
Permission is a gift that we offer ourselves.
First we must allow ourselves to be accepting of our feelings and our situation. We must permit ourselves to be open and honest by admitting our feelings and our needs to ourselves.
Permission allows us to acknowledge the hurt that we feel.
We must find a way to risk telling others how we feel. They cannot know where we are and what we need if we aren’t open with our feelings and our needs.
Permission is also what we need to offer one another.
Those who we are close to and care about will have feelings and needs here too. Your loss will touch them as well. We must allow them permission to feel too. The death of your loved one will surely touch others. Allow them to hurt and need and know that in their struggle they may not always be able to offer you what you need at all times.
If you offer anything to some one who is sad, let it be permission to feel what they do and permission to heal when they are ready.
Try very hard to save the empty words and to avoid the awkwardness that you may feel around someone who is sad. If you can, risk and express your feelings to the one grieving. Let them know that this is difficult for you too but that you want to stay close and help. Try also to ask yourself what you might need in that situation.
To those who bear the sadness of losing a loved one, remember, that you cannot live fully or recovery completely without PERMISSION.