5 Things About Grief You Should Know
This month of January marks two years since I lost my brother. Some days I think I’ve adjusted to this new normal in my life, and I have a sense of bittersweet grace and acceptance. Other days it’s a horrible jolt where I’m reminded all over again that he is gone, and I find myself reverting back to the girl from January 2016 who had just heard the news and couldn’t begin to make sense of a broken timeline that made no sense.
While no two grief experiences are ever alike, there are common themes. So much of the time we feel alone in our experience of loss, and yet grief is universal. We are not alone in what we feel, and if we want to entreat with life with an open heart and conscious intent, it is important we make space for the whole of our experience. And so, I thought I’d share a few observations on grief in the hopes that they help support others who are also in their own grief journey.
Grief has No Borders
Loss knows no bounds. I liken grief to a strange land that exists on another plane, a surreal space separate from everyday reality. Grief plucks us up and out of the normal stream of life and deposits us there- without our consent- and we are forced to navigate and find our way through. Jagged mountains are plenty, long stretches of barren desert frequent, a deep sea that ranges from angry to sorrowful to numb often comes along and sucks you into its waters, and you don’t know when it will release you and deposit you back on the certitude of shore.
At first, when you are at the heart of your grief, you can’t help but exist almost full time on this plane. As time goes by, you may find you travel here less, though you will still be pulled in for visitation. Be gentle with yourself when you find yourself here. You are allowed to be in this space for as long as you need, so you can process your pain and eventually find the hidden treasures of deeper heart knowledge that can only be found by those who travel here.
Grief is Disorienting
When somebody you love is suddenly gone, your entire life turns sideways, everything gets jumbled, and it takes awhile to sort through the pieces. Spaces they once filled now sit blank and empty, and that experience wreaks havoc on our mind, spirit, body, and heart. Sometimes we don’t even realize all the spaces somebody occupied in our lives until they are gone, and as such it will take time for the whole of your being to heal.
Your mind will need to establish new neural networks, your nervous system will have to re-set and find a new balance, your emotional center will need a lot of sorting and clearing. And your heart is going to feel like a bomb went off; it takes a while before you’ll have a sense of life returning to that space and see the wildflowers that have begun to grow.
Be patient with yourself in this process; the mind, body, spirit and heart have a wisdom, timing, and divine intelligence all their own.
Grief Changes Everything
Grief will fundamentally change you, and when you go through internal change, your relationship to everything around you changes. You develop a different lens on how you see the world. You are cracked wide open and are forced to put your pieces back together again.
You may find that some of your old pieces still fit; you may find that some of them don’t, and you need to go in search of new pieces. Grief rearranges us, and we don’t always know how we’ll come through that rearranging. Self-compassion is key in this process, for we are not here to stay the same but to experience soul growth. And soul growth isn’t linear, it can be challenging, confusing, and disorganized. But know the end result will always meet our own requirements of soul- and you can always trust your soul.
Grief has no Shortcuts
Grief will take you through a full range of chaotic, messy emotional experiences. While personal spirituality can bring perspective and comfort in grief, I have found that you can’t spiritually bypass grief. There are no shortcuts. No easy fixes. No bail outs. Grief is simply something we have to make space for. In fact, trying to skip the grieving process robs our heart center of massive opportunities for growth.
Please know you are not doing anything wrong when those very dark human moments trample over your peace, love, and light. In fact, you are doing something very right by making room for your humanity. You are allowing yourself to experience the full spectrum of what it means to be human, and in allowing yourself to do this shadow work, you will find an even greater connection to the beauty in life, when it is time to emerge from the shadows and step back into the light.
Grief is a Doorway
Grief can be a doorway when we allow it space in our lives. A doorway to a deeper self. A doorway to a more meaningful life. A doorway to a greater compassion for ourselves and for others. A doorway to greater authenticity. A doorway to other realms and a heightened relationship with spirit and the universe. A doorway to soul. And most of all, grief is a doorway to love. We grieve, because we have loved, and part of healing is realizing we still carry that love inside of us. And so we are not broken beings after all, but containers of love walking around, sharing our light wherever we go.
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