Grief is a process that is an inherent part of life. Everything changes and as humans who deeply love and care, it is natural that we grieve for all the different kinds of losses we experience daily and over the course of our lives.
There are three portals in the grieving process. The grief for what has been lost. The grief for the relationship. And, grief for ourselves; for the parts of ourselves we have lost that were attached, identified with, enlivened by, connected to or known through the relationship that was lost, or as a result of relationships that never were.
This last part of the journey is essential for our freedom from ancestral pain, individuating from our lineage, for self-love and to meet the depths of love in our soul.
This last portal of grief, grieving for oneself, is often overlooked, confused or feared. It's different than feeling sorry for ourselves. It is different than wallowing in pain. It is different than trying to fill an empty, existential hole inside of us with stuff or people or other things. In its unmetabolized form, it becomes shame as the mind attempts to work through what our heart needs to release.
It is an act of compassion and love to acknowledge and honor our own pain. The pain of never having what we needed. Never feeling the love we longed for. The loss of not having needs met. The pain of our hearts being neglected, of the disconnection and abandonment of our own inner wounds. Our own soul wounds.
Grief is love. You do not grieve what you do not care about. To grieve for yourself and to acknowledge with love and compassion all that you have survived, this is the third portal of grace and freedom offered by grief.
Mother's day is arriving this weekend, so this I am aware of feeling within myself and all who I am sharing time with in sessions. There is a lot of grief up right now, for the loss of mothers, the mothers we never had but wanted, the pictures of mother we are sold, lost opportunity to become a mother, whether to mother or not, and the mothers we carry inside of our own hearts. Why are we more fearful of approaching our internal pain and allowing ourselves to offer love at the altar of all we have endured and experienced and survived and transformed and lived through?
Part of rising out of the ashes is the letting go through this grief, it is in fact loving all the places that haven't been loved, that have been made long in their longing or wanting or needing. It is offering flowers at the altar of your own heart.
Pay no attention to all the messages about Mother's Day and the pictures media portrays. Take time to honor in the ways that feel right for you, and take time to honor your own heart. It's okay to grieve for yourself. You are here, which means you survived a lot.
Grief is far more central to the human experience than is acknowledged. There are cultures where space is made every single day for ritually expressing and moving the energy of grief. Space is made for feeling. The more stifled we are here in the West, the less space there is for grief and the natural state of feeling, the more we seem to suffer from emptiness, depression, anxiety and addiction.
Grief is a natural reaction to the constant state of change that is the nature of life. Flow. Grief and all feeling is a response to letting to, to surrendering to this flow of life outside of our control. In aligning with it. In the wakefulness of presence to what is and that gap between what is and how we want them to be.
How do we let go when we want things? How do we let go when the wanting becomes something filled with fear and struggle?
A client of mine asks me this as I traverse my own inner dark waters of clinging and grasping to things that I want, to the unraveling of letting go and the space of love that grief has been washing over me. Underneath, there is the peace with the wanting that is hard to explain, counter-intuitive, but just feels right. There is more letting go. There is always more letting go. But, as I sit with my client, in the face of something she really, really wants to have happen and is doing all the things, it's just simply not happening. What now?
I sit and watch her beat herself up. Go back in time, filled with regret. Searching in her psyche for what it is in her that is blocking this thing from happening. All this pain and shame. I stop her.
Sometimes we have to let go. Sometimes we have to accept things might not happen, accept what is and let go. Sometimes we have to just sit in the grief and not turn it in on ourselves. Sometimes all there is to do is let go. Sometimes things happen the way they happen and we don't get to know why. We don't get to know why things happen for some people and not others. Why we aren't truly all the same, with the same nervous systems or access to the same resources. We do what we can, we still want and move forward, but we also make space to let go and not grip so hard to all the wanting and feeling. Somewhere in there, that thing we want that we think will make us feel free when its letting go that makes us free.
We sit in the space and let the tears of grief open the doors of heart.
Grief is an initiation. Whether we have lost a parent, whether it is illness or disappointment or being alone or a break up or all the myriad of constant losses and disappointments we experience as humans on a daily basis.
We are human. It is healthy and natural to feel and grieve. It is actually the liberating force that has the power to restore our lives and reconnect us with the wild mother, the wild feminine, with the deepest resources of love.
We have to make space for grief. We must make space to learn how to metabolize our feeling, to restore access to the sacred capacity within ours hearts. We simply have to. Spending time in fear of ourselves, in anxiety or codependency or addiction or burnout or fear or shame or feeling alone or disconnected....we simply no longer have time to be dead while we are alive.