Growing up in an Eastern European home of immigrants, I am no stranger to grief.
I learned that there is an immense range of healthy expressions of grief when someone dies, or we experience any other distinct loss.
And, there are dysfunctional ways of grieving that leave one stuck in time, depressed, anxious, filled with fear, locking the doors on life, and living in a constant state of re-living the grief that repeats the past, which comes replete with self-loathing and lots of explosive rage.
My parents have pictures of funerals in our family photo albums. Grandparents. Cousins. Great grandparents. Aunts and uncles. Distant relatives. My family takes pictures at funerals. Some may find it morbid, but for me, it was always just that death was a part of life and just as honored and celebrated as one’s birth.
When my great aunt died, my mother threw herself on the ground and wailed. She was given space to do this. I watched my father bring her a cup of tea and set it beside her with a box of tissues and then he was on the phone, navigating arrangements. No one stopped her or tried to shut her down. People wailed at my great aunt’s funeral. We threw roses on her casket. Told stories of her life. I tied up my most precious memories in a golden box in my heart. We visit her grave every Christmas.
There’s also grief that is trapped in my family. Pain no one talks about. Pain they think is a natural part of life. Pain that became a part of my own identity. Pain of stuck, unprocessed, upheld grief and trauma from generations of family living through two world wars, revolutions, regime changes, and profound poverty. I saw this grief trapped in the way we lived, the heavy cloud of a lack of possibility in my family.
Somehow, against what some may call all odds, I made it out of this system and am creating something deeply life-affirming out of this pain. But, I traveled through deep mists and fogs of my own grief and addiction.
I learned that there is a profound healing beauty in grief. That trapped grief spins a web of lies that keep us stuck in a legacy of pain and suffering. I learned that there is nothing to fear about grieving but much more to fear about resisting it.
Grief and death are gateways to greater aliveness.
Every expansion requires a death, what we may say is a contraction. It’s natural for us to cycle like nature.
Growth is inevitable unless we resist death, change, and grief.
Our fear of death is intimately tied to our fear of being fully alive. When I sit with my own fear of death, I see that there is nothing to fear but suffering. Death is another experience of consciousness. And the fear is about pain, suffering, and being in this body.
It’s no accident that when we bring our spiritual, energetic, awakened, higher selves into our human body, draw our consciousness down into our heart space and root of our physical body, we feel grief. Tears flow. Memories arise. This is a liberating act of allowing the body to let the old shed and it cannot happen as a mental context.
Healing addiction is filled with grief. So is trauma. So is codependency. It’s the wound arising to finally be released through the tears of love we finally offer up to ourselves.
We have each learned something profoundly important about our relationship to grief and death, “working” on ourselves, and what that means about life.
What did you learn?
How did that impact how you feel about yourself, your well-being and where you are in your life?
What about grief and death scares you the most?
Can you imagine how liberating it might feel to heal this?
There is untapped potential of love living beneath the layers of our illusory fears about grief, death, change, rebirth, and fully living as embodied souls. It doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t have to be “work.” It can be gentle, compassionate, and filled with connection to more love than we realized could hold us in our times of sorrow.
And, while this is only one piece of the puzzle of how we can heal this world we live in, grief is love…it is what heals us.
It is not our grief that needs to be healed, but felt and honored as the love and honoring it is. This frees up our hearts to live more openly, present, sanely, compassionately, and kindly—which the world needs a lot more of.