Each of us grieves things on a daily basis. Grief is a natural reaction to endings. We grieve the end of chapters in our lives as well as the end of volumes. Endings are as inevitable as beginnings. Change is the only constant.
It is right and good to mourn what has left. It is also right and good to plan for the future, to begin to imagine solutions and new ways of being. We can even do these two things simultaneously. If we don’t allow ourselves to honor what has left our lives, we imagine it is still there, and we cannot move forward; a residue remains and gets in the way of our vision. Our society is not particularly good at supporting moving through grief, so people can get stuck in that space. Every ending is different, so each instance of grief is different. Placing expectations (how long it’s going to last, what it’s going to feel like, the pattern and flavor of it) on grief can get us stuck too. When we do not allow ourselves to process and move through that grief, it builds up and creates a form of depression. That is a path to that downward spiral.
October is a grief month for me, so my own personal energy is more sluggish. But it’s also a reflection of the world at large. There has been so much going on that we have no choice but to cut away some of the things which no longer serve us. It happens every year – as we approach the thinning of the veil in autumn, we start releasing so we can be ready to meet the dark of winter unburdened. Anniversary dates will have their own flavor of grief as well. The birthday and deathiversary of those who were close to me tend to bring another layer of the onion, and I have to stay out of the idea that “I should be over this by now.” Lung issues are frequently grief, especially for me. When my best friend suddenly passed away in 2007, I took a sharp breath in, a gasp really, and didn’t let it back out for months. It created medical issues that I’m still dealing with. In every subsequent loss, I have made a point of reminding myself to breathe, no matter what. In some traditions, the tradition is to mourn your dead for a full year, and I can see why. You might be amazed how foggy one can get in grief – giving yourself a year is the compassionate thing to do. Each loss adds to pre-existing grief, layering, like too-thick paint on a wall. But I endeavor to breathe, to process, to allow the grief to do what it needs to do, without fighting it.
The way to support grief in others is to hold space. Love them, approach them without judgment, let them feel supported. The way to support grief in yourself is to simply allow for the process and to stay out of self-judgment. Take some time for yourself this month. Sit in silence. Assess what are the things you can let go of, whether they are ideas & beliefs, people, things… Do some work to start releasing. Acknowledge the collective grief as well as your own. Mourn what you need to mourn. Find your place of acceptance with it.
If you are experiencing grief today, no matter how small or how large, you have a choice. You can focus your attention at your heart center, in the middle of your chest at the level of the armpits. You can listen for the small voice (made smaller from the not listening). You can reconnect with your heart, with your hope, with your inner sun. Many of us shy away from listening to the heart when we are in grief, because we think that this is where the pain is. In fact, the heart is where the healing is. You may have to go through the pain to get there, but know that you are moving towards a healthier self, a more whole you.
Have courage and faith, take a deep breath, and dive in.
This post is part of a new series called Monday Message, based on that day’s reflection from 365 Days to Enlightenment (authorized versions are currently out of print, working on a new edition). Check back next Monday for another one! You can also sign up for the Daily Message on my mailing list if you’d like to receive a new reflection every day. I also often post them to Instagram and Twitter, if either of those is a medium you enjoy.