Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thoughts on Grief

A beautiful woman at school gave me a book about grief about a month or so ago. She might be a little younger than I am, but if she is, she wears it much more heavily than I do. And as I read through the first couple of pages, I began to see why that might be so. Grief happens. Loss happens. It is unavoidable. It is absolutely an irrevocable intransigent part of life. It cannot be unwound from the fabric of who and what we are as human beings and our experience here on this planet. That being said, it can be the single most heart-wrenching, horrific, unbelievably painful experience known to man. To lose something that we have grown to love, to lose something familiar, constant, expected, counted upon, something to which we have gifted the illusory notion of object permanence.... There is no going back from that; there is only going forward. And as trite as that may seem to the recently afflicted, I say that as one who experiences grief as a nearly constant experience in my life. In fact, every day has become its own sort of grieving in the sense that every day is not what the days before it were, and never shall be again. Every day becomes a sort of grieving ritual, and also a celebration. Because too, in every day, there are beautiful little miracles and pieces of magic that show up and appear as you begin to awaken yourself to their presence. And as you begin that, and whether it is coming out from the loss of a marriage, a loved one, a pet, or a home, or a stage of life, or many altogether, you begin to see that change can be part of the true magic of living. And again, I say that knowing that for many who have experienced recent loss, or who are experiencing loss at this time, that this may be of no comfort to you. You have heard all of the cute little sayings. You have tried to buoy yourself with mantras and affirmations. You have probably read books and paid for time with well-intentioned counselors. I am sure that you have had friends and family “reach out,” in many (although not always helpful) ways and means. I can promise you that you will find balance again if you want to. I can also promise you that you will find joy again; that there is peace and acceptance on the other side of this, and maybe even gratitude. You will find times and places in your life when things will be exactly as you need them to be, and life will flow in beautiful ways for you again, and your faith in life and in the world will be momentarily restored. This is part of an ongoing choice that we all have as mindful, deliberate, conscious beings. We can choose our roles in life. We can choose whether we are the lost and heartbroken grieving wretches that society sometimes paints us as. We can also choose to be beacons of light and joy and gratitude in a world full of magic and blessings. We can choose to start feeding ourselves on the beauty and the love of life, even if it begins by living through others vicariously. We can choose this, and reject the starvation and penitence of misery and grief. We can choose to feed our hungry souls. We can feed ourselves with the nutrients of life and love that will help ease over our hurts and close the holes in our hearts and souls. And to some people in my life apparently, it is a surprise that I still tend to emotionally distance myself so much from the things that I love; the things that I crave to reach out to embrace and adore. But I have known pain, and that becomes like a disease in your life left unchecked. And even as I fight it now, fight back against my defensive propensity to push people and places and communities and opportunities away from my heart because I know at some point that they will be taken away-- that all things are impermanent-- I still long for those deep, meaningful connections. I long to lose myself in loving life and the people and places around me. I long to fall deeply and courageously in love, unflinchingly in love, with all things, beginning first and foremost with myself. And as I begin to become accustomed to my own constancy and continuity of soul, even through all of my revisions of consciousness and physical changes, I begin to learn how to love better the life that I have been gifted with.