How often do we witness one another in our grief? Were we raised in a culture that honors the tremendous aloneness that comes with the anguish of digesting that which feels impossible at times? Do we know what being alone together can feel like? Will we recognize it when it occurs- that possibility we long for and don’t believe is possible?
Grief is an emotion so big at times it feels it will swallow us. The vulnerability on the path of living and loving can feel downright terrifying, especially when there is an experience of grief. When we are disconnected, which tags our base systems of survival, we will feel something, and often it’s a big something. We have to restructure our inner landscape to make sense of a reality that is no longer. The death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the loss of a pregnancy, the ache that comes with never knowing a particular thing we had expected or longed for, or the experience of life with the trauma one carries are all the quiet pain that people meet on the daily.
What happens when a glimmer of one’s pain is revealed? Or an expression of our own? Do we try to fix it? Do we show our discomfort by minimizing it? Oof, do we pity, and/or judge, making the person, or ourselves an other? What happens in our own body when we recognize grief? Can we allow the tremor, the tears, the anguish of being at an edge that feels beyond too much? What happens if we keep the throat open and let the body sound or allow the muscles to shiver? Can we be with the twisting of the heart and the turning of the belly when sorrow is not felt as beautiful but torment?
Have we shared an encounter with another that maybe reveals a protection of that unbearable loneliness with a rougher exterior? Maybe we have cut others out of our world because they missed truly seeing our pain and we feel abandoned? As humans we are accompanied in the knowing of this incredibly dark and deep place by chimpanzees, elephants, giraffes, and very likely more animal beings. And still, we seem to struggle with how to be with this powerfully felt experience called grief.
Stages of grief are rarely linear and often we never stop feeling the loss of someone, something so significant. We are adaptable organisms. However, how we are met by ourselves, and our community, within our grief can play a significant role in how that heartache will shape us.
In a culture that disregards bereavement and a person/people in prolonged pain, (and also healthcare and education for all), how have you been shaped? Is there space for the felt experience of depression? Does a system feel safe enough to meet big emotion? What does it mean to accept what we would not have asked for or experienced before we felt prepared? Do you know how to sit with someone else, or make space in your heart, even if you don’t fully understand? Can we respect how another moves through their process?
I wonder if you might take a pause to sit with what grief means to you, feels like inside of you, looks like around you? Are you curious? Do you feel resistant? Does this bring up sensations or feelings in your own body/mind? Is there comfort at the possibility that you might be seen and held in your grief, perhaps even if they are grievances we have carried for so long on our own, because of what culture showed us/shaped us?
May we learn to meet what is, even when it’s hard and messy. May we support one another in the integration of hard things by staying near. May we all know we are in togetherness even when we feel alone.