Grief….I bet the first thing you think of is the death of someone close to you.
Images of painful sorrow, struggling to adapt your life without this person, tears and difficulty moving on could flood your mind. While this is very often true, grief also wears many other faces and responses in our world. We grieve lost relationships, transitions through divorce or children leaving home, anticipatory grief of terminal illness, even the suffering of our world and many other elements of change or disappointments. Grief is the expression of the sense of deep loss, of being separated and disconnected from what you love. It is our response to having loved.
Sorrow flows from our wounded hearts. I have heard my own words often this past year, describing “my sorrowful heart” as I walked through the decline and death of my own father and too soon after, my brother as well. Sorrow is inherent in grief, yet grief is the outer expression of our sorrow. Grief is an experience that is created from this sorrow and loss, it is an adaptive process that protects our fragile emotional state and allows us to step away from the world in various protective ways.
Grief is often described as though a feeling of being disconnected and out of sync with the world, it can create loss of concentration, mood swings, even anxiety. Grief is as almost a cloak surrounding us, preventing us from being caught in the usual focus of our lives. Many describe it as being unable to connect with people emotionally, others find it hard to control their emotional selves. Why? Grief is acting as a buffer between our inner self (the needs of our spirit emotionally and spiritually) and our habitual outer focus on the many activities and relationships that hold our attention. Grief prevents us from becoming absorbed into these activities because our emotional self needs time to heal. Our spiritual self also is in a period of gently being reconfigured without the powerful cords of loving connection that had been integral to our sense of self before our loss. All of this is necessary to move forward in a changed but healthy way ahead. If we allow ourselves to tap into this vital process at our deepest center, we can truly open and find gratitude for this powerful transition in our energy being. For myself, not only have I grieved the sorrow of my personal losses, but that sorrow has opened a gateway to a current of grief that feels almost like a river deep within me. I find myself feeling powerful compassion and sorrow for women now and throughout history, for our suffering planet and our lack of connection with all of life as we disregard the natural world’s needs. As I cope with my grief, I find myself quiet and reserved, deeply emotional but also feeling more alive and connected to spirit than I ever have before. This has been a time that I truly cherish as I’ve been given a portal to my deepest self that I had not had access to before. My grief has truly been transformative.
Your grief is a true gift; an unwelcome one, but truly a gift of healing and resurrection…
In my recently published book, Life as a Prayer, I shared a discussion that I had with the wife of a hospice client that had passed. I wrote “….the deep energetic cords of love and union are being lengthened and thinned, their power is lessening within you. Your spirit must heal and find new life. This is already happening and will continue to. You will emerge a new self, different than you were. You will find a new life that has changed in many ways as you emerge. Your grief is a true gift; an unwelcome one, but truly a gift of healing and resurrection…” It was a privilege to talk to this woman since she and her family had demonstrated such reverence for the dying patient and had allowed a very honest conversation about the sacredness of passage from physical life to the next phase.
Our culture gives a cursory nod to grief with much attention paid during someone’s illness and the immediate time after their death. Our social media presence allows us to share with hundreds of people during these times, yet I wonder how many of those that respond with emojis of hearts and faces crying tears really take in the struggle of the person sharing their sorrow in these posts? How many people remember that a coworker lost her mother six months earlier when that person is distant, preoccupied, or more emotional than her usual self? I have found that most people feel the need to maintain their usual composure or to uphold the positive attitude that our world feels will heal all things even while going through deep loss and personal transition. My first week back to a regular routine after my Dad died, I realized that I didn’t feel free to give myself that permission. I found that my concentration at work was causing omissions. Gratefully, my work life is surrounded by those that promote healing on all levels and extended compassion with their honesty so that I was able to recognize my unrealistic self-expectations and change that pattern. I continue to take the time for solitude that I need, and to seek out activities that nourish my body and soul.
Grieving is hard. It feels as though our loss has disconnected us from our own selves, our own lives. It truly does take time to heal, but we need help and support along the way. There are many types of complicated grief that need a therapist’s treatment. For most people, seeking support groups, chaplains or ministers, and healing tools that allow acceptance of our honest feelings while we express them nourish us as we move through the first months or longer. Few people have the presence that is needed to allow this emotional honesty with their friends or family members, so taking advantage of professionals that offer various types of healing modalities is integral to helping to aid our process. I continue to have sessions with massage and energy healers, sound therapy sessions, and other types of healing. Each of these helps to realign my energy system so that I leave balanced and able to approach life from that place. My healing isn’t about escaping the reality of my loss or my grief; my healing is about walking through life without those I have recently lost while remaining open to my loved ones and my life.
I will be hosting a workshop on November 24th in Sturgeon Bay for anyone that feels out of sync with the holiday season that will be ushered in. We will share guided meditation and breathwork to open ourselves, use our journals to allow our deepest feelings to be voiced, and then help to frame our own definition of our expectations of the holidays. There will be coping strategies as well as many joyous memories shared. In that way each of us can feel affirmed and supported as well as empowered to embrace these weeks honestly. For more information click here…..
I also offer Inner Life Coaching in which I use Reiki, breathwork, and many healing tools to help my clients open to their deepest selves through reflective writing. These healing tools help to ease emotional blocks so that clients can feel balanced and more easily embrace life. These sessions are either in person or done online. To schedule your session, click here…..