“What is the unseen force that keeps people from wanting to engage (their own) grief and avoid those who are grieving?”
(From Chapter 10, The Alchemy of Grief: Your Journey to Wholeness)
The answer to this question is what keeps me motivated to help others engage in their feelings of grief, and be with the uncomfortable feelings they experience.
Today, I am comfortable sharing my story, being vulnerable, and talking about how grief impacts my life. I’m still often surprised at the response I receive what I’m at speaking engagements, or at networking events with someone who doesn’t know my story.
What I’ve also discovered is that most of us who are comfortable talking about grief have experienced it first hand. We found ourselves right in the middle of our greatest fear. We had a choice to either stay stuck or find a way through.
Those of us who have found a way through wish we hadn’t had to. We too wish that our reality didn’t include finding a way to live without our loved one’s physical presence in it. And at the same time, we know that we have made a choice to meet our grief.
We may each have our own reasons for doing that, such as:
- Honoring our loved one,
- Wanting to find out if there is more to life.
- Wanting to be there for other children or family members who need us.
- Not wanting to stay stuck in a place that doesn’t serve us
To name a few.
Many of these reasons overlap, and may become the lifelines that give us the hope and grace we need to continue on the path of climbing out of the deep well of grief.
Each time we model how we are being with our feelings, and getting better at being uncomfortable, we show those who have no context for grief what is possible.
On of the first times we did this after Leah dies was at a Remembrance Gathering we held for her on what would have been her 18th birthday, 6 months after she died.
We invited her friends and ours to gather, remember, and share. Our invitation was met with bewilderment, confusion, and many questions. No one knew what to expect, yet those who were able to quell their fears, out of respect for us, or to honor Leah were all surprised at the experience they had. They called us brave, and innovative. They expressed their gratitude for inviting them. On that day we received confirmation that we are here to show others another way to meet grief. Still, today, I receive messages from attendees who tell us how much that ceremony touched their lives.
One of the many gifts of my grief journey is cultivating resources to meet grief when it occurs in my life. When Leah died, I was ill equipped to meet grief, as many of us are when we meet unexpected, and/or sudden grief. Now, when I experience grief, no matter where it arises, I give it the time and space it needs to move through, and be seen. That is another passion of mine, to teach skills to help us have a place to start when we do find ourselves face to face with grief. Having the tools we need before we begin a task makes that task easier.
I’d like to think the same is true of grief, and meeting our difficult feelings.