Grief is More than a Bystander
No one died today. There’ll be no eulogy or flowers.
It’s not that kind of day, but still, surrounding our every experience, grief waits for us.
Grief is more than a bystander for the dead and dying. Grief is the emotion that accompanies loss, a circumstance we experience all of the time in one form or another.
We lose jobs and all of our social connections there. We suffer the ends of relationships, bonds we thought would last forever. We change cities and lose everything our lives were made of. We drift apart from friends, the replacements of which don’t come along as easily as we’d like. We see our dreams fizzle and die, powerless to revive them. At some point, we all face the loss of our youth and some even lose health and wholeness.
We suffer a million small deaths in a lifetime. This dynamic Universe fluctuates and evolves, refusing to allow anything to stay the same for long. So how do we cope with these losses when it’s equally our nature to want to hold on to the way things are? How do we deal with the constant changes we’re faced with every day?
Loss is a way of life in the human arena whether we like it or not. It happens all of the time. And through each of these life changes, grief waits for us. We see it there lingering in the shadows, but we don’t want to face it…
For what might it claim from us in our weakest moments, when our defenses are down?
Grief shows up in our lives when we lose our connections with people, places, dreams, and things that are important in our lives. However, we don’t trust it as a good thing. Even though it arrives to help us, we try to keep it on the sidelines where it can’t disrupt our lives with sadness, fear, frustration…not to mention ugly-crying in public.
We fear it because grief is a very complex set of emotions that may feel like anger, sadness, vulnerability, and powerlessness all at once. Mix in a little nostalgia, shame, and feelings of insufficiency and you can understand completely why people avoid it. Grief is one of the most common emotions that we stuff or ignore. Stiffen your lip. Swallow hard the knot in your throat. Shorten your breath until the sadness fades into the background where it will (I guarantee) wait for its next opportunity.
We don’t allow kids to cry fully. We certainly don’t let ourselves cry much either. Instead we immediately swoop in to fix things and stop the free flow of emotions. But these learned ideas are hurting us more than helping.
Unexpressed grief can build up over time and become a dark source of toxic rage. Ever have one of those weeks where everything is s**t and you can’t figure out why you feel so mad? Try shutting yourself in a room with a bunch of pillows for ten minutes. Scream and cry. Growl. Get mad. Punch a few pillows and see if things don’t shift for you.
The only way to successfully deal with change and loss is to express grief more often than we do. Many believe that grieving is something we do only when a person or favored pet passes through the pearly gates. At death’s door, grief is acceptable and normal, but what about all the other times when loss is inevitable and uncontrollable? What if we were to allow grief a greater role in the day-to-day experience of our lives?
What if we allowed grief to help us loosen our hold on the people, places, customs, and things that are forever shifting and evolving beyond our grasp and control.
Grief is more than a bystander. Grief is a magician that can transform our suffering into gratitude.
When we grieve, we release bit-by-bit our painful feelings around circumstances we can’t control. Loss can make us feel powerless and grieving can help us regain some sense of empowerment in our lives. Grief, when allowed, shows us how much pain we can actually process. It allows those awful feelings to move through and once unstuck, they hold a lot less power over our lives. We let go of what’s lost and make space for new things to enter our lives. We can’t fly free when we’re tethered to the past with so much regret. Grief allows us to sever the ties that bind us to painful experiences.
Grief gives us permission to forgive ourselves when we’re holding on too tightly to our past decisions. We need to forgive ourselves for our thoughts, actions, and decisions so we can move forward in our lives with a renewed sense of confidence. Any time you choose to dance with grief and go all in, something important will be revealed to you, a secret you’ve been keeping from yourself, a lie that you’ve been believing, a new insight or understanding, an awareness of something great within you, a call to something more. Grief is more than a bystander. Grief is a gift from your soul – an unlocking of the power you do have to rebound and go again.
Tell me about your most recent loss and what grieves you today. If you’re ready and need someone to talk to, hit me up and I’ll hold your hand and listen.