Illumination III: Deep Grief

Once again…interesting times this pandemic.  At this age and stage of life I didn’t expect to be changing my routine in small but significant ways.  I didn’t expect that using this “gift of time” to clean out my files and possessions would leave me in touch with my impermance and wondering how my life mattered.  I didn’t expect that creating archives for the business I founded and ran for 20 years, now successfully in the hands of my step children, would put me in touch with both the joys of the accomplishments and the loss of those incredible joys.

I have been unashamedly grieving each day, allowing the tears to flow, and giving them permission to last as long as they need to.  I don’t like the fact that I seem to be getting in touch more and more viscerally with the fact that I am going to die. But that’s the truth. I want to put things in order.  I’m letting those tears flow.  And it is a relief. This is a major emotional transition.

I don’t know if others give themselves that same permission to just grieve deeply.  Fr.  Richard Rohr has provided some essential wisdom to me and I want to quote a paragraph from his daily meditations:  Reality Initiating Us…Life is Hard.

“I’m afraid that many of us with privilege have been able to become very naive about pain and suffering in the United States and the Western world. We simply don’t have time for it.  However, by trying to handle all suffering through willpower, denial, medication or even therapy, we have forgotten something that should be obvious; we do not handle suffering; suffering handles us–in deep and mysterious ways that become the very matrix of life and especially new life.  Only suffering and certain kinds of awe lead us into genuinely new experiences.”

We don’t know and can’t judge how others feel their losses.  Those that seem small to us, are large to others.  Certainly the loss of certainty is stressful to all, as is feeling  out of control.  Some have an easier time discerning what they can control, and just start with that.  “Today I made my bed, and made a healthy breakfast and helped my son with his schooling.”  It’s what I call the “three successes a day”  approach.

For me, letting tears flow through what I don’t even know what, is my way to clarity and relief. I learned how to “feel, cry, be angry” during several years of participation in a wonderful program available locally, ReEvaluation Counseling. (RC), a kind of peer counseling.   I feel badly for those who block their tears, for fear of being seen as really a mess.  My RC approach is always:  “Crying is not necessarily a signal of mental illness or depression.  It is a signal that you need to cry.”  It always seems to be therapeutic.

And so, while I’ve been surprised at the amount and level of deep grief I’m experiencing.  I’m not afraid of it.  I am looking forward to what this grief and this suffering will teach me and what kind of space my “letting go” will reveal for my remaining years.  I find myself surrendering to the normal cycles of life change.

Perhaps my words can help you relax into your own grief–especially if you can’t exactly name it.  These times are hard in so many, many, ways.

The first
great lesson of life to learn
is that winter will always come…
the human winters of despair and loneliness,
or disappointment, or tragedy…
The major challenge
confronting those surrounded by winter
is to not let it affect the arrival of spring
and our ability to recognize
that arrival.

~ Jim Rohn  

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