From the moment we’re born, we begin to experience loss. Loss comes in many forms, not only the loss of a loved one through death. We also experience other losses, including dreams, physical strength, jobs and relationships. The “Law of Impermanence” means that the older we get, the more we lose… nothing stays the same. Often we experience multiple losses, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and wondering how we will get through. Unfortunately, we’re not often taught how to grieve and often don’t even know if it is ok to grieve.
Grieving is an individual journey and has its own timetable. Just as we go through the birth canal alone, we die alone… and in many ways, we grieve alone. The crisis stage of grief passes in time, but the deep feelings of grief remain. No one else can cry for us, mourn for us or feel our feelings of pain for us. We have to do all of that. We often feel isolated from people who surround us, feeling different and alone. We realize that our pain is so deep that no one can else share it. In the book “Begin Again,” Rabbi Naomi Levy so beautifully states:
“Friends may empathize, but no one can live inside another person’s wounded heart.”
So, how does one heal?
It is important to honor the feelings of loss and find a way and place to express them. Stephen Levine recommends that we build temples specifically for the purpose of grieving, ritual sites where we can feel safe to pour out our sadness and loss. The Jewish “sit Shiva.” The Irish hold wakes. Our culture has taught us to become stoic and distant from our grief, causing rituals like these to become more rare and infrequently practiced.
How does one find comfort in their suffering and grief?
Although no one can grieve your loss, others can provide a space for you to grieve. The presence of others can help to strengthen us… to provide a safe place for us to grieve.
In churches, people come together to pray, to find community, faith and strength. Coming together in bereavement groups can provide hope and strength during our time of loss. Being with others who are grieving normalizes our grief and the depth of our pain. Being with others who have a “knowing” of what you are going through helps you to realize that you are not “going crazy” and can survive the intense feelings and loss. They can provide support and friendships that lighten the loneliness. There is nothing like opening up your heart to someone who will listen.
It can help to form friendships with others who have a similar loss. It can also be healing to temporarily “leave your grief” and become involved with others by doing service or becoming involved in the daily activities of life. This may feel uncomfortable for a while but will begin to shift and change.
Rather than recognizing death as the natural companion of life, we tend to believe that death is an enemy, something to fear. While we fear death, we don’t fully live our lives. By acknowledging death and learning how to grieve, we can learn how to allow ourselves to heal, come out of our past and fully enjoy the present moment.
Acknowledging, allowing, honoring, expressing and sharing through unity and connectedness provides the opportunity to come together to grieve, to heal and to live again. You do not have to walk this journey alone.
My loving thoughts and heart go with you on your most difficult journey. I believe in you and your ability to heal.