There is nothing hidden here. It reveals every made up thought we have had to sooth our weary hearts, and it lays bare every lie we worked to believe.
Grief is the ultimate honesty. The recognition that we never truly own anything. We are ultimately alone and this aloneness is absolute. We will only ever be ourselves, and we will be the only one to experience each moment of our lives. Everything around us changes, constantly. Experiencing loss is the underlying story line of each of our lives.
But it’s not the whole story.
Life changes. We move through it. We were all introduced into life here, dependent and unable to care for ourselves or control our environment. Our needs were met by the world around us, by the people we relied on to feed and clothe us. We never really had a choice in the matter, just instinct. Pure, visceral, guttural instinct to survive at any cost.
You see, life survives at any cost. And it isn’t personal.
The people that come into our lives are surviving too. We are all just working our way through this infinite kaleidoscope of piles and colors and happenings. We are all watching the swirling shapes and collisions and explosions and seeking some point to stand where we can just rest once in awhile. Is there anything solid, constant to hold on to in this incessant tidal wave of change?
Losing loved ones, by death or circumstance or disagreement, for me is the most painful and intimate grief. It is intimate because loving people is where I live.
We sometimes define ourselves by the people we love: Mother, Father, Daughter, Son, Sister, Brother, Husband, Wife, Best Friend, Lover, Partner, Friend, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, Grandma, Grandpa, Steps, In-laws, Once, Twice, Three-Times Removed.
We love who we love and we love being loved. There is something redeeming about experiencing the chaos of change we were brought into, when we come to a place of recognition, acceptance, of deep intimate knowing of one another. When we truly see each other as we really are, when we know and are known by. This is the substantial, common ground we are all reduced to and redeemed by.
Grief is contained within love.
Like the stars against the contrast of the night sky. Grief arises, but it does not overshadow, alter or shape the love it arises within.
Then friends, let us not run from grief. Let us turn into it. Let it soften and nurture us. Let us discover what we’ve always known and find the courage to stand alongside one another, without demand, without hope that the other will save us from our aloneness, with only the strength that comes from standing in your own love of being.
“I used to have a sign pinned up on my wall that read: Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us…It was all about letting go of everything. p.7” ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant archives