If you're grieving this holiday season, try screaming. It's helped me work through the loss of my dad.

If you're grieving this holiday season, try screaming. It's helped me work through the loss of my dad.
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  • When my father died, I felt like I had no place for all my sadness and grief.
  • My grandmother taught me that screaming could actually be a tool to relieve what I was feeling.

Two weeks before my college orientation in August 2007, my father died in a car accident. In an instant I stopped being the happy, carefree person who would blast Rihanna's "Umbrella" out my car window and became a teenager who drove in absolute silence, aimlessly, hopelessly.

By Christmas my father had been dead for almost five months. At that point many of my friends had stopped calling to check up on me and stopped texting to hang out. I had inhaled grief like a drug and gladly welcomed it inside my lungs. I didn't know it would be the only air I breathed for months on end.

Now, after several years of therapy and taking a moderate dose of an antidepressant, I'm the most emotionally stable I've ever been. My father has been dead for 15 years, but that doesn't mean this upcoming holiday season will be all that different from the first after his passing, or the many others that followed.

Holidays are always a vulnerable time in mourning the loss of a loved one. But families could do a lot more healing if instead of numbing the pain in silent isolation while sitting in front of the TV they took time to do something together that may be a bit unexpected: scream.

The silence of grief can be crushing

After the death of their son in a road accident in Vietnam, Jane Harris, a psychotherapist, and her husband, Jimmy Edmonds, founded The Good Grief Project, dedicated to supporting bereaved individuals and families. Their newest book, "When Words Are Not Enough," explores the many ways people come to express their losses.


"Grief is surrounded in deafening silence," Harris said in an interview with Insider. "It is a bit like shoving stuff in a suitcase and filling it to the point where you can't even shut it, so you end up sitting on top of it and trying to shut it that way. Eventually it's not going to work. You have to open the suitcase, take some clothes out, and address whatever is inside."

But confronting one's own sorrow is frightening and anxiety-inducing. With so many different ways to grieve, it's hard to know if one way is better than another.

Screaming can be a tool in the grieving process

Screaming is most often observed as a fear trigger, but many athletes scream to boost their performance or express their emotions in high-stakes situations. It follows that screaming can also be a form of expression or relief from grief when employed the right way.

Iman Gatti, a certified grief-recovery specialist who wrote the book "Cracked Open — Never Broken," told Insider there's no "right" way to grieve; after all, as she says in her book, there are at least 44 kinds of losses beyond the death of a loved one, including the loss of one's "health, finances, freedom, routines, and hopes and dreams."

Gatti said many of us don't know what to do with our grief. "The frustration and constant loop of words unspoken and missed opportunities will have us replaying situations over and again in our minds," Gatti said. "Screaming is a very powerful and accessible way to let that energy out without hurting anyone."


How I learned to scream

My grandmother was the first person who taught me how to scream.

In those first few weeks after my father's death, she found me in my room, coughing and shaking uncontrollably, trying to swallow the grief I felt burning in my stomach.

She picked me up, cradled me in her lap, and whispered that she wanted to hear me cry so she could hear the pain. She told me to cry and to cry harder. She told me to scream.

I wept and screamed in her arms with a rawness and a vulnerability I had never experienced before. It helped.

Since then, I've screamed loudly and often. There's power in numbers; my grief expands and releases with great propulsion and ease if I'm with other people. But if you're not ready for that yet, screaming in solitude can be just as impactful. Scream in the car, on an empty beach, at the cemetery — whatever works for you.


The most important thing to remember, Harris said, is that the more we repress our grief, "the more the deafening silence grows." We need to normalize our losses and support each other.

That's why you can be sure that for this holiday season, while you'll find me in my car belting Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You," you may also find me tearstained and screaming into my steering wheel.

Both are necessary. Both are OK.