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Blog....August 10, 2018
THE GIFT OF GRIEF
Grief. Our response to loss. So simply stated. So complex to experience. And yet, the one emotion we all go through.
Looking grief straight in the eye is a difficult thing. The idea of objectivity is myth in the best of circumstance (how can we ever be anything but subject to our own culture, education, environmental, etc. influences,) but when you throw grief into the mix, objectivity is downright impossible. We are subject to what has happened to us. We are influenced by our personal beliefs about death and grief and concepts like healing or integration or transformation, or guilt, or fairness...and on and on. We are subject to the impulses and (spoken or tacit) rules and measures of our environment like family of origin, spiritual beliefs and support system , career choice, geography, and more.
With all that distortion, maybe the best counter is more distortion, at least in the eyes of the traditional approaches to the world. When we can’t look at grief straight on, why not crick our necks, tilt our heads, and look at it all sideways?! Maybe grief is a gift? Maybe the opportunity and challenge of a lifetime?
There is no prescription for grief. There is no universal method for approaching our grief experiences. Grief is not a sickness to be healed. We are not broken because we experience grief. Rather we are all human and mortal. Grief comes as a natural part of being alive. Life changes in both good and tragic waves. People we love die. Things we cherish are lost. Animals who companion us leave us. Loss is part of being willing to LOVE. So let’s be creative in our skills for experiencing both love and loss.
My best hope for us all is to learn intimately that our self and community care are tied together. We are not alone when we love. And we are not alone when we lose and grieve. We live in groups. We grieve individually and collectively. If we cannot learn to reach out to each other, if we can’t learn to talk about the shared experience of death and mourning, we will not function to our fullest capacity. These are our stories. They must be told.
We must move beyond the limitations of grief stages and tasks. We must tell our truths in order to understand this thing called life. We must explore our innermost beliefs and perceptions and most of all, be willing to feel and experience and risk that we will break into a million shards and never be glued back together.
Grief is a saga. It is a tale to be told, a part of our life story. Integrating it, transforming it, just surviving it is a challenge. But it’s a challenge we can handle...a victory we can win. We will never get over our grief, nor should we. We can, however, learn to live more fully in the face of the love that brought us to our knees.
Grief as a gift? Why not?
Sculpture by artist Celeste Roberge
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