If our only context for grief is related to death and major losses, there is no symbolic space with which to relate to or understand the grief we carry from other painful experiences in our lives.
Most of our language around this kind of pain comes in the form of pathology, symptoms of too much suppressed grief and trauma, or the experience of pain itself, through a lens of deficiency that needs curing, problem-solving, or brain hacking.
We have been trained to see scarcity as a material or mental problem, rather than as grief or a lack of love.
With few models for flourishing psychospiritual well-being, pain in an unhealthy and unwise culture is seen as an inhibition to productivity, so we have been trained to see our pain as an issue that we must figure out or solve with our minds.
We thus become more identified with our thoughts and seek paths of transcendence to overcome this suffering, which is an end result of not being able to grieve properly.
It is preached that this grief and pain, often experienced at the hands and hearts of others in pain caring for us as well as the separation pain from source, is an illusion, which denies the lived reality of our physical form that is living in relationship with life itself.
This lack of understanding pushes the one within who carries this grief for us deeper into exile, like Medusa. Her story is an excellent mythological map of the wild genius and wisdom-embodied self who was cast into a cave after experiencing a painful event.
This mythos is deeply embedded in the unconscious of our culture, where the exiled one is cast out. In the world. In our psyches.
This story has lead us to believe that we will turn to stone if we look upon this one within, and that, instead, we must become the hero who cuts off her head—and in that slaying, in cutting off the head of the exiled self who has been pathologized, we will become free of our limitations and logos will rule.
But, we are human animals and divine. Most actually enlightened beings mourn for the pain and suffering of others and do what they can to alleviate the pain of this world.
Our separation wound is where we feel our humanity and our divinity coalescing at times in deep grief and raw tenderness, and at other times, in blissful states of openhearted, interconnected love with all beings.
In that ache, we can also feel both at the same time.
This grief is love yearning for union with itself.
We cannot get rid of the exiled one within us because this exiled self is our essential self.
There is nothing about our essential, wild self that needs fixing, it is rather that there needs to be space to honor the exile, the grief of what was survived, including how our essential self has also survived all the elusive defensive measures of our egos in order to navigate life.
With no language for this deep grief, we are left creating tension against this ache we feel—the sadness and fear in our hearts about our worthiness of love, where we belong, if we are seen, and so on.
Our original wails entering the world often shut down too soon, and this is a tension we add to and navigate so much of our lives.
A tension built up to protect ourselves from our grief. A tension we think is us, which much of our self-improvement is aimed at—trying to cut off the head of that thing that causes us tension, rather than honoring what our essential self has survived so we can be free.
I can’t tell you how many times I have sat with students and clients in grief who are trying to figure out what’s wrong with them because they have been working on themselves for so long. And, they don’t get why they still feel this way.
And, I’ll offer this up, “This pain is grief. You survived a lot that is worthy of grieving. This ache is that honoring.”
Most of what we suffer with is something we haven’t developed symbolic language for because grief has been acculturated out of our collective narrative of the human experience (and capitalism profits off of this).
Grief is deeply mammalian.
It is loving.
It is normal.
It is an aspect of our human experience, Eros being the other, that connects our physical being with a higher power of love that heals us, guides us, and expresses itself as us—all that we are.
Grief opens us up to more aliveness, Eros, if we’ve been disconnected.
It helps us heal our relationship with ourselves, others, and the Source of life itself. It helps us to live as life itself, connected back into the longing behind all longing—that brought us all here in the first place.
There’s a reason mystics and sages say that those who are grieving are the ones closer to God.
That ache inside that you can’t figure your way out of, can’t fix, or make go away, it’s grief, my dear.
It’s okay to grieve; it is what heals you.
It is what sets you free.
More love, not less.