Posted in A Day In the Life

The Transformative Force of Grief

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Is it uniquely American to pick and choose emotional states, as if from a menu? Be happy. Don’t be angry. Choose joy, not sorrow. Aim for bliss. A positive attitude can be a strength in our lives, but what happens when it’s at the expense of authenticity?

There’s A Time and a Place: Ecclesiastes reminds us that to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven… So doesn’t that mean that there is a time to celebrate and a time to grieve?

The Lotus Grows From the Mud: Nature is rich with metaphors. The lotus plant roots itself in dark mud. Beauty and compassion are born from grief. Why then do we seem to hold it back, especially when it shows up as the unfinished business of healing?

Permission to Grieve: No one in this world escapes grief. Yes, it’s present in death, but grief is also the little losses that pile up over time. In these instances grief can reveal itself as melancholy, angst, or unexplainable tears. If we run from what is asking to be felt, is it any wonder why we are a nation preoccupied with psych meds? So, is grief a negative emotion? I don’t think so. Mostly, we turn our face from grief, because we are not well versed with being in its presence. It requires us to sit still with suffering and be its witness.

Winter’s Descent: For me, winter is the great descent. I’m prone toward the disconcerting rumble of low-grade depression this time of year. I’m also more likely to be quiet and reflective, figuring out things about my writing, my life, and myself. It’s the Persephone myth, playing itself out, and each year since I realized that, I weather the assault of the dark a little bit more easily. I’ve come to respect the place where emotions are just under the surface of my skin bringing me closer to the vocabulary of my heart.

Everyone Keeps Secrets: You don’t need a Ph.D. to see that the personas we craft for social media are all rainbows and unicorns. It’s as though the struggles of our lives are shameful and must be kept secret. We need places (probably not social media) to give air to what it means to be human. Too much energy convincing everyone of how positive you are while holding sorrow in abeyance, can turn a person numb.

No Apologies for Grief: The deep psychic dive into what hurts is liberating. We should all take a little more time to cry and wail, allowing tears to baptize us into fresh starts and new beginnings. No apologies for doing your personal work in the dark. Hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your door and know that nurturing a deeper understanding of grief grows us into better, more compassionate human beings.

Advocate for the Authentic: I am more interested in keeping it real than I am in any preconceived notion of what it means to be positive. In fact, I’d like to kick the whole “positive only” movement in its little ass, and shout to the world, that we are connected by our shared experiences of sorrow and longing.

Human beings tend to most deeply bond over shared stories of broken hearts and retrieved pieces. Each time that I sit with my grief, it teaches me something. And that is the transformative force that pushes this messy, awkward, wonderful life toward greater love and fullness.

Author:

Novelist, essayist, blogger, wife, dog-mommy, dancer, dreamer, grateful.

10 thoughts on “The Transformative Force of Grief

  1. “grief is also the little losses that pile up over time”—That is so true. And seemingly little things from our past can hit us when we least expect it and bring us down. As you mention, it’s okay to feel them for a bit. If we were upbeat all the time, we would indeed not be very authentic.

  2. Once experiencing tragic, deep grief, it is part of you forever. It makes us better people if we embrace it, experience it, talk about it, and allow it to enlighten us. It can be so very overwhelming though and yes, this makes the positive only movement completely unrealistic and dehumanizing. Wonderful reflections!

    1. So beautifully put, transformative forces such as grief do become part of us forever — I would not give up those little aching places in my heart that remind me of those I’ve loved so dearly. Here is too the fullness of life — in all it’s messiness. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  3. This was good to read. My personality tends to hold difficult emotions aside until I have a private moment to sit with them. When that time is right, it is good to let it go. I don’t like it when people try to force me to share things when I am trying to stay composed, and I find that during difficult experiences I run into those characters who think they are doing me a favor to poke at my emotions. I wish everyone grasped that we need our own time for processing things.

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