May 4, 2016

When in Grief: Remember This.

grief sadness alone girl

Sometimes the doors to my closet of grief open so wide that all the sadness and loss I thought I was over, consumes me in one gulp.

I am then living and breathing a mourning of something to which I cannot place a name, for in actuality it is all the accumulated losses of my one, simple life.

If I were a traditionalist, on these days I would dress completely in black, with a full length black veil, extra shiny black patent shoes and black lace gloves covering my hands all the way up to my bony elbows. I would wear oversized black sunglasses and have a big, burly grief body-guard accompany me at all times, waving away passersby from commenting on my appearance or leaving condolences while standing around to make compassionate chit-chat.

Everyone would speak in low whispers and my own voice would be low also, almost an exhale, as I continually released what my body no longer needed.

On these days of mourning I fear being alone, the silence that happens then seems slightly excruciating. It is as if, when combined, alone and grief make their own unique echo that bounces off the walls of my already achy heart.

However, on these days company is also hard. Being witnessed in grief makes me think that I shouldn’t be this way, it is counter-intuitive to my societal upbringing, that as humans we should always be outwardly regulated and functioning, at least at a level where we’re able to be productive in some work cubicle somewhere.

I don’t go around looking for this pain (often), but I have found as I get more and more real in my life and with myself, sadness pokes its head out aggressively here and there. Sometimes it arrives simply at the realization that my life looks different than I had planned.

The spectrum that I feel is pretty large. My emotions could regularly fill a small baseball field.

When my grief gates fully opened today, they did not fit into any of my plans. Today I wanted to kick ass. I wanted to accomplish at least three of my goals. I wanted to be happy and productive and buoyantly move forward. But, apparently, today I am here to let sadness out of the closet, to give grief a voice and to allow tender vulnerability to be felt in each one of my bones.

I am still surprised (though I’m not sure why) each time these funerals happen within me, these pools of sorrow that need to be let out.

Sometimes we are meant to brush ourselves off right away, to stand up and move on. Other times we must allow our emotional floodgates to open and that gushing gorge of energy to be released.

The realization that strength is the ability to allow whatever needs to pass through us to do so, no matter how intoxicatingly morose it seems, is a pretty grown-up one.

I try to sit tall today, even if I am not able to stand so, and I observe these emotions as they make their grand crescendo. Their turbulence and eddies form circles around my being, and as they do I realize there are four things I lean on when my grief gates open:

1. Grief is only a visitor:

I could increase my sadness by being upset that I was feeling this way, but the other choice I have is to tell myself it is just a visitor, one that got locked away in prison for a few years. Like all other experiences, this one is temporary. It is busting out now because it needs to feel the light of day on its pale face .

2. Grief passes through us if we allow ourselves to feel it:

Today will be a day where I will cry when I first wake. Tears will roll down my cheeks as I sit on my mediation cushion and as I eat breakfast—even the look of my familiar porridge will make me well up. This is okay; it is how this form of energy moves and clears space for something new.

3. Grief re-connects us to our heart:

When my grief gates open I understand that life touches me deeply. There is grief innately woven into the human existence. We are consistently made to let go of something and witness the dying of another. When I let this truth inside me, I feel fully again that tender organ sitting below my left ribcage.

4. Grief is an important piece in closure:

Today I am not the hive of joy I wanted to be, but I can see myself as accomplishing something grand. I am letting go of years of things that have been hanging on inside of me. It is after grieving that closure shortly comes.

I choose grief over happy today. I allow its dark, cool waters to flow through me and I notice that as they do my skin starts to feel a little more alive. My tears make way and carve out a course for the new day tomorrow. Being human is sometimes beautifully sad.

Precious gifts can be found in the tenderness of our soul. If grief is knocking, I will keep opening up that door.


Author: Sarah Norrad

Image: Laura Grafie/Flickr 

Editor: Emily Bartran

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