I’m BOTH grateful AND not grateful and I give you permission to do the same.
I write to you while delicate snow flakes fall outside my window and it’s bitter cold. Hello February in Colorado…I hope you’re warm and well wherever you are.
We’re also at that time of year where we focus on love with Valentine’s Day. And I wonder how that is for you.
Unfortunately here in the States of America we tend to focus on romantic love. But there are so many other kinds of love to celebrate: self-love, friendship love, family love, kitty love, tree love, mountain love, ancestor love…
And because I’m still a “freak” about grief, (I’m obsessed with it)…I cannot think about love without also thinking about grief.
Yes, you see grief & love are cousins; they walk together and one informs the other. They are two sides of the same coin, connected yet opposite. They lean into each other.
Makes me think of the meme that was going around recently-did you see it? The one that says- “I told my friend that I’m emotionally ‘hitting’ a wall and she said, “Sometimes walls are there so we can lean on them and rest.”
So how do we lean into grief?
It’s much easier to lean into love.
Well, leaning into grief for me means no longer resisting it. It means to finally surrender to it and befriend it. And that takes time, trial, and patience.
It helps to remember that we grieve because we love.
It’s present tense, not past. Love never dies. Love never fades. And we still have the opportunity to stay connected to this love even though we’ve lost dear loved ones or something that was so precious to us.
It reminds me of the first gate of grief with Francis Weller, he states, “Everything we love, we will lose.” I highly recommend reading his poetic book about grief called-The Wild Edge of Sorrow.
I once made that statement my mantra that I intentionally sat with everyday for a week. And what I came away with was a deep sense of gratitude for the gift of being alive right now and reveling in the present moment.
I once heard that the happiest people on the planet are the people of Bhutan. Bhutan measures their gross national happiness vs. product. And I was told that they contemplate death seven times a day. I want to go there someday when we can travel again to experience that myself. The connection between happiness and thinking about death makes so much sense to me.
So a balm I use often in grief is gratitude.
I was recently thinking about everything I’m grateful for and I captured this moment, this song and this musing…it is about 3 minutes, have a listen here:
So I give you permission to be BOTH grateful AND also not grateful. Don’t bypass your feelings of grief with gratitude. And don’t jump to gratitude unless you feel it 100% authentically in your body, and down into your bones.
I will never be grateful for Michael’s accident, this I know for sure, my bones know it.
I want to make sure you have your grief needs met. I’ve not been leading grief rituals these days because I’m busy doing so many other things-my second Tending the Tenders group, and writing my memoir about how my life went upside down with Michael’s tragic accident.
I’ll be doing a 3rd Tending the Tenders group in April, (it’s grief support and education for other therapists). Let me know if you or someone else wants to be on the waiting list.
I’m really enjoying supporting the ones who are supporting so many right now. I love sharing what I know about grief and how to be with it…to befriend it…
Ultimately the goal of my work is to help you make friends with grief.
My gift to you for this Valentine’s Day is an exercise that may help you map out your experience of grief. It’s called the Ripples of Loss and I learned about it from my Creative Grief Support Practitioner’s training. Here is the prompt for you to use…Reach out if you have questions or want to share it with me.
And since the start of this pandemic I’ve been checking out other grief rituals and here’s one I found that is similar to the grief rituals I have co-led in the past. It’s not the same online but at least it’s something.
The rituals I have found that work best for me are also informed by the West African Dagara tradition taught by Sobonfu Somé, Malidoma Patrice Somé, and also Francis Weller.
So if you need a grief ritual check out Bernadette Pleasant an amazing woman doing amazing work. She’s doing one on February 21st. Here’s the link: https://www.theemotionalinstitute.com/grief-rituals
I’ll continue to share online grief rituals, so stay tuned for more resources.
I’m looking forward to gathering on the land and doing grief ritual in person someday when we can gather again safely.
We grieve better when we’re together with the earth beneath our feet.
So until then, may you be blessed, may you be fed in all ways always. May you be kind to yourself and others.
And may you practice both/and…hold both Grief AND love, and be grateful and not grateful.
Blessings to you,