Listen to this post:
“I’m not the one who is going to tell you everything is going to be okay because that has not been my experience and I don’t believe it’s some universal truth.”—Brenda Feuerstein
Grief is heavy. It is like walking around in a suit that doesn’t fit or feel good and signals to every passerby to look away. It’s the shattered mirror in which nobody wants to see their brokenness reflected. Grief demands respect, depth. It doesn’t lighten its burden until we allow it to fully exist.
More than ever, I am aware of the many layers of grieving. The first being personal. The second being ancestral. The third being collective. Lastly, I’m even aware that grief exists cosmically. That angels and gods and goddesses can experience what we’re experiencing and weep tears of disappointment that more embodied beings don’t walk a path of spirit and open-hearted compassion.
I repressed grief for many years as a young woman. Somehow, I knew if I stepped off the capitalist carousel of “work, buy, consume, die,” I might have just sat down and fallen apart into too many pieces to reassemble myself quickly enough to survive the madness of a career, financial responsibility, and the effort of becoming the somebody I thought I was supposed to be.
Inside of me, and infused throughout my energy field, lived my parents’ years of fighting, my sister’s addiction, men’s constant sexual overtures and abuse, political campaign wars, office competitions, environmental and governance degradation, all built up as ossified stratum that only the dynamite of death could begin to blow open. I am thankful my sister died. Without this massive blunt force of loss, I might have continued forth pretending I was okay, pretending I’d made it!
If you’ve read this far and not looked away from the page, or stopped the recording of my voice, I suspect you’ve faced grief once or twice as well. Or maybe you have carried years of collective grief within until you could not anymore. Breaking open is not failing or being weak. It is the breaking open that allows us to discover more of who and what we really are.
I hope today you will sit for five minutes and repeat to yourself, It’s okay to give in to my sorrow. That you will acknowledge anything you are sad about and let those sorrows guide you to who you want to be when you’re not actively grieving. Ask yourself, What do I need to hear and do to signal safety for all my emotions to get their due attention?
Today I thought I had COVID. I don’t. It turns out, I have grief. My body wants to curl up and not move until its ready. It’s okay. And I am sad that so many human beings do not have any choice but to keep moving if they want to eat, pay rent, stay out of harm’s way, and so many other imperatives. Some things will never be okay. And that’s okay.
When we stop pretending, we are real. And, as the Velveteen Rabbit so wisely taught, “Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. Sometimes it hurts, but when you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
Image credit: Alex Green