I remember well the first time I ever saw Post Secret online. It was the year the site started, 2004. I remember thinking what a brilliant, creative way to anonymously share the secrets we hold, those we can’t imagine someone knowing, but wish we could express.
If you don’t know about Post Secret, I can get you up to speed in 30 seconds or less, because it’s a simple but brilliant concept. Post Secret was started by Frank Warren who invited people to mail him postcards with their secrets. That’s it…that’s the concept. And you know what? People did. So many people. So many secrets. So many creative and personal acts of secret-sharing.
If you didn’t know about this before, you might have seen the CBS Sunday morning story about it over the weekend. If you didn’t, you should absolutely take eight minutes to watch it.
This is what had Eleanor and I thinking about secrets again. Not just any secrets, but grief secrets specifically (we were thinking and talking about grief – weird, I know). The thing is, we all have grief secrets. I promise. I speak not just from my own experience, but from years of working with grievers and supporting friends in their losses.
As you may have experienced, there are moments, sometimes quiet moments, sometimes fits of tears or anger, when these secrets come out. Prefaced with reluctance or apologies like, “I can’t believe I am about to say this but . . . “ or “people would think I am terrible if they knew this . . . “, and the person says something they kept bottled up inside for who knows how long. And then suddenly there is a sigh of relief – relief it has been said, that it isn’t trapped inside any longer.
In the interview above Frank Warren says,
“In some ways, I think when we keep a secret, that secret is actually keeping us . . . maybe haunting us, maybe inviting us to reconcile with part of our past we’re hiding from, maybe keeping us from having intimate relationships with others or ourselves”.
This is likely no more true in grief secrets than other secrets, but we have seen how much power these thoughts, beliefs, and memories can hold in grief. These secrets can leave us struggling to move forward, struggling to connect with others, and so looking at our grief secrets can push us to face things we’ve been avoiding.
The Grief Secret Challenge
In the spirit of something we love around here, finding creative ways to cope, we are challenging you to share your grief secret. We know – this isn’t an easy challenge by any stretch. The very nature of a secret is that we don’t want to share it for some reason. But there can be a value in sharing our secrets – a value in facing them and examining them and finding the strength to get them out. When we do, the secret loses a little of its power.
There is also value in sharing together. The nature of secrets is that they isolate and keep us separate. When we share and see what others share, we create new space for support and we are hopefully reminded that we aren’t alone. So, we want to compile as many of these as we can, PostSecret-style. We will compile them here on the site and share them on social and we hope to share the physical postcards in some sort of installation or project.
How To Share Your Grief Secret:
There are three ways we are asking people to share.
- In the comments. Guess what – you don’t have to use your real name in our comment section! You can, but you certainly don’t have to. So if there is a grief secret that you want to get off your chest right this minute, leave it in the comments below.
- Share on social media. Okay, I hear some of you screaming ‘are you kidding, I am NOT sharing a secret on social media. We assume this won’t be where most people share their deepest grief secrets. But there might be a secret you have wanted a reason to share on social media, and this is just the nudge you needed. If that’s the case, tag us @whatsyourgrief and use the hashtag #griefsecret.
- SEND US A POSTCARD! We were inspired by PostSecret and part of what we love about it is the deliberate and thoughtful act of sending a postcard. Secrets are hard to face, and the act of creating a PostCard and taking the time to mail it gives you some time and space to reflect. It also lets you consider what next steps you might need to take beyond just sharing the secret (more on that below). Your postcard can be anything you like, but if you would like to print out an addressed postcard for ease, we have a template you can print out if you click here. If you use your own postcard or envelope, mail your anonymous grief secret postcards to us at the address below. Get creative and artistic, or don’t – just write it down and drop it in the mailbox. Whatever works for you. There are no rules here.
Thoughts on sharing grief secrets
We want to be clear about something – sharing a secret, a grief secret or otherwise, it isn’t going to magically fix everything. Sometimes getting it out makes you feel great and you realize that’s the end of it and sometimes facing, labeling, and sharing a secret is just the first step (especially for our deepest and toughest secrets, secrets where we’re stuck). Don’t believe me? A couple PostSecret postcards have my back:
Facing a secret can be a start. Naming it can be a start. Sharing it can be a start. But sometimes we need to go further with it. We need to tell friends or family. We need to seek forgiveness or forgive ourselves. We need to find self-compassion. Or, as another PostSecret postcard so eloquently suggested – we need to talk to a therapist or counselor.
Before we send you off and hope that you share, so we can share, so we can all feel a little less alone, we want to leave you with some of the power grief secrets people have shared on PostSecret. A word of warning, some of them are difficult. They’re secrets for a reason. So if it is a touchy day for you, you might want to browse them another day.
We always love it when you share WYG posts on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or wherever you share. We love when you email them or text them when you think they might help a friend or client. But we usually don’t explicitly ask you to do it. Today we’re asking, because we really want to get the word out about this.
We hope as people start to share, then we start to share, more people will start to share. So if you have a minute, please help us spread the word! We even created some Instagram images for those of you who only use IG.
If you are a grief group counselor or facilitator and want us to send you some printed grief secret postcards to use in your groups, just send us an email and we’ll mail you some!
Thanks for helping us get the word out.
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