Got your attention? I’m talking about the ‘G’ word…Grief, not Gangsta. I hope you don’t stop reading just because you found out this post is about grief. I think people, and Western culture in particular, have an unease about the word grief. “Ugh…so heavy…grief” my friend says when she hears that I’ve titled my trip to India ‘Transcending Grief’, “I just think of a bunch of women sitting around crying” she adds. I get it. I changed the title to something lighter, more fun sounding…”Journey to India” and people responded postitively, they liked it better. Phew, less heavy.
I find myself drawn to the word grief, not repelled. Anytime I see a workshop, a book or something on the internet with the word ‘grief’ in the title, my pulse quickens and I get excited to see what it is. I truly have a passion for grief! Grief makes me appreciate life more…love more. My heart has cracked open so more can get in.
“The wound is where the light enters you.” -Rumi
I don’t know if it’s the word itself or if it’s the fear of the pain that we back away from. I often notice people backing away from the word grief and changing it to something more palatable, like “loss” or “letting go.” Grief packs a powerful punch. Oomph right in the gut…or the heart. Ask somebody who has lost a loved one and they’ll tell you they’re grieving. Grief is the word that fits. After a few years (or months!) our society wants people to be moving on and getting past the loss, i.e. Don’t Worry, Be Happy!
Stephen Jenkinson says: “Grief and the love of life are twins.” Two halves that make a whole. He goes on to say, “From a young age we see around us that grief is mostly an affliction, a misery that intrudes into the life we deserve, a rupture of the natural order of things, a trauma that we need coping and management and five stages and twelve steps to get over. Here’s the revolution: What if grief is a skill, in the same way that love is a skill, something that must be learned and cultivated and taught? What if grief is the natural order of things, a way of loving life anyway?”
If we’re truly living in the moment each day, we are grieving every day as well. How so? Well, if I am appreciating the beauty of this moment, with my dog snoring softly on the couch, my daughter sleeping peacefully upstairs, the sun shining through the green willow leaves, I am also aware of the temporal state of this moment. Everything passes. Everything dies. The knowledge that each moment is finite fills me with an ecstatic pleasure as well as an ache to know it will never happen again. I’m loving life anyway, in spite of loss, because of loss. In this way, grief has been a life changing gift to me, by giving me a profound appreciation for each moment, knowing that this too shall pass, I will pass.
Often when we lose somebody or something dear to us, we feel compelled to search for the meaning behind the loss. “What if meaning is not something to find?” Stephen asks. “Meaning is made by the willingness to proceed. Life has to continue, not YOU have to continue. Life is not your life span or your children’s life span. How about holding the fact that nothing you hold dear lasts. How about holding that fact close to your bosom? That’s making meaning of the end of life.”