A few words about grief

We’ve all experienced grief at one time or another.

Are you experiencing grief today?

It’s quite possible you’re experiencing grief this week as a result of the election. I know many who are seriously grieving over recent events and the resulting chaos in our country. Of course, it may also be something completely different for you today. Have you lost a job or opportunity or ended a relationship? Have you lost a friend or family member? These losses in particular, can take quite a long time to grieve. Perhaps you experienced the loss of a pet. We do get so attached to our pets.

The fact is, no matter the source of your grief, it’s real. There’s no reason to try to pretend it away. It wouldn’t help if we did.

I know everyone is familiar with the stages of grief, so I won’t go into all that right now. What I’d like to do instead is to re-frame our perception.

Grief isn’t always bad.

Sometimes…

Sometimes, grief is beautiful.

Stay with me here. I know that statement could possibly come off as insensitive or stupid or just plain wrong.

But even still. I hold to that statement.

Let me explain.

So often, we put emotions in categories. Joy, Happiness, and Wonder  all go in the “good emotions” category. Sadness, Anger, and Resentment all go in the “bad emotions” category. Right?

Here’s the thing I’d like to suggest: emotions are neither good nor bad. Joy is no better or worse than Anger. They are both intense and amazing feelings. One happens in response to events that we prefer and the other in response to events that we dislike.

However…

Anger can often move us to much-needed action! Sometimes it takes the fire of anger to get us motivated to make changes. Or the intensity of a deep belly-laugh to relieve our stress.

So, what about grief then?

In some of my most recent experiences with grief, I have noticed that it is full of texture and beauty. This is much like loneliness (which can be so full and expansive when we let it). Grief is raw, and often feels like our hearts are ripped wide open. I don’t know about you, but sometimes that is EXACTLY what I need! I can get so closed or detached from the real-ness of life. And a season of loss brings me back to raw reality. As my heart feels like it is bleeding beyond repair, I find I am more aware. I notice the acts of kindness from a friend that I may have taken for granted yesterday. I see the hurt another person is experiencing and have enough presence of mind to give them a smile or a hug.

Grief is expansive.

Grief sometimes feels like it oozes onto everything for days, weeks, months and years. And we cry. We feel despair. We sit in disbelief.

And yet….

Grief is also full of experience. Tears are wet, and salty, and endless! Our hearts ache and heave with the waves of intensity. We are opened up. We see others – not just as coworkers or neighbors – but as people with their own very real experiences. Joy. Sadness. Wonder. Anger. And sometimes…grief. But now, we have a small understanding. We have a little more patience and tenderness for their experiences.

And that, my friends, is BEAUTIFUL.

Are you grieving today? If so, I invite you to lean into it a little bit. What does it feel like? What does it look like? How does it taste? Sit with it long enough to gain a new perspective about it. Sit with it until it feels beautiful.