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  • Writer's pictureSerena Johnson

Have you ever played the game Whack-a-mole? ? It's an arcade carnival type game where you are holding a plastic hammer, and in front of you are a set of holes. As the game starts, a mole pops up in random holes at different intervals of time and the object of the game is for you to whack the mole in the head with the hammer . The game looks easy and the target looks easily “whack-able”, but it's a vigorous effort on the part of the player to continue to hit the mole in order for it to no longer resurface…but it always re-surfaces in another hole no matter how hard you hit it down. With every effort you make, the mole continues to resurface, and you continue to whack at it everywhere it appears.

In this blog, I am calling grief that is avoided, denied and masked as Whack-a-mole grief. It's a grief that you refuse to acknowledge and, in turn, you refuse to process, and although it may seem that you have suppressed the grief (mole), it will only resurface somewhere else. Grief suppressed is not grief that is processed, it’s simply hidden for a little. But just as in the game Whack-a-mole, it will have to resurface somewhere else.

For some of us, it seems easier to run away from and suppress our grief. It might feel successful at first because you’re able to keep yourself together and function-somewhat. You feel sorrow and you stuff it down. And back to the rest of your day you go. So you think. That stuffed grief goes down, but must re-surface somewhere. Grief is meant to be felt and expressed and so it does not stay hidden within us. It must resurface and often times it does in ways we don’t recognize as grief. Stuffed grief often resurfaces itself in negative ways in our emotions and physical body. It can resurface as headaches, stomachaches, anxiety, irritability, anger and sleeplessness. Unresolved grief actually compounds the symtpoms that you initially would have experienced.

Does Whack-a-mole sound foreign to you? If so I would suggest looking up the game on YouTube. It’s quite a game, and a video will give you a visual of your unending effort to get rid of grief- instead of processing it. The intense bottled up emotions of grief are meant to have an outlet. If you are afraid of what processing your grief looks like, I suggest that you find a safe space of comfort and support from someone. That person could be a close family member, friend, or associate who you can safely share your thoughts and feelings with. They do not have to have all of the answers, because sometimes just venting helps as it allows those feelings to have an outlet. If for some reason you don’t have any one in your life that you can have this space with, find yourself a counselor or support group to join. We all need a space where we can be seen, heard, loved on and cared for during what could be a hard and isolating season.

I am not writing to tell you anything that I haven’t had to face and digest. In the first several months of my grief journey, I tried my best to just get over it. Grief at times was just such an inconvenience to me, because I had a thriving, fast-paced life to get to back to. I soon discovered that the more I stuffed, the more agitated I became. The more I denied my sorrow an outlet, the more sleepless nights I experienced. It was like a vicious cycle…no sleep caused more agitation and before I knew it I was filled with more than just sorrow. I thank God that I didn’t stay that way, because it was extremely exhausting mentally, emotionally and physically. I made time to grieve, because my sorrow had reached a boiling point beyond containment. I reached out and asked for help in areas that I found myself struggling, which first took acknowledging where I was. This initiation of facing my grief took me out of the tiring game of Whack-a-mole. I was so ready to put down that hammer!! Playing Whack-a-mole with your grief is tiresome and doesn’t yield much.

Don’t Whack-your-grief away, instead face it, feel it, acknowledge and process it.

There’s hope for you, I’m a work-in-progress-witness.

1 Comment

May 22, 2023

This is so true and so important! So many times we tend to punish ourselves by just getting over it or trying to ignore/deny our true emotions! Thank you for encouraging people to really face it and process their heart. ❤

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