Everyone experiences grief at some point in their lives. Sometimes, we think it always has to do with the loss of a loved one. But grief can arise from any type of loss, whether it’s a job, a relationship, or even an experience. 

Most people have heard of the stages of grief, but instead of working through them, they choose to suppress their feelings instead. 

While pushing your grief away might seem to work for a while, it isn’t a long-term solution. It could actually do more harm than good and create bigger problems later. 

So, why is suppressing grief counterproductive? What can you do to accept and work through your feelings?

You’ll Be More Irritable

When you’re carrying around a lot of grief, you might either experience consistent irritability or even moments where you “explode” in anger. Think about it as something physical—if you were carrying around a large, heavy rock every day, it would require all of your strength and focus.

That, alone, could make you irritable. But, if something happened that caused you to drop the rock for a moment or lose your balance, you could also lose your temper. 

Suppressing your grief is like holding on to that heavy rock. The moment you’re triggered by something, it could unleash a lot of anger you’re also holding in. 

You Won’t Move Past the Loss

One of the biggest reasons suppressing grief is counterproductive is that it doesn’t allow you to move on. 

The stages of grief are there for a reason, and they are important. There isn’t an ideal timeline to work through them, as long as you’re continuously moving forward. When you suppress grief, you aren’t giving yourself that opportunity. 

So, it’s more likely that you’ll remain “stuck”, and it will be next to impossible to move past the loss. You might think that pushing your feelings down will help you get over it, but it’s actually keeping you from doing just that. 

Fear Can Take Over

Working through your grief helps you to accept that losses happen. When you choose to avoid it, you might start to think about how fragile life is and how quickly things can change. While those thoughts are true, focusing solely on them will often lead to excessive fear and worry. 

You might become hyper aware of everything happening around you and constantly prepare yourself for the worst. It may even cause you to avoid things in your life because you’re worried about getting hurt or losing someone else. 

That fear can trickle over into almost every other area of your life, leading to feelings of anxiety and constant worry. As a result, your behaviors might even change. You could become more dependent on the people around you, for example, if your anxiety stems from a fear of loss. 

What Really Helps With Grief? 

When you suppress your grief, you’re really not completing the process of working through it. While no one wants to experience loss in their lives, dealing with it in stages is the best way to move forward. 

What really helps with grief is experiencing closure. That requires accepting what happened and what you lost. Again, going through the various stages can help you get there. But, you don’t have to get there alone. 

If you’ve been struggling and suppressing your grief, consider therapy or counseling. You might not feel comfortable opening up to family or friends. Talking to a professional will make it easier to experience your own emotions and work through them. When you do, you can finally acknowledge your grief and work through it in a healthy way.