Lately, the constant theme I keep finding in my space is grief.
What is grief?
How do we avoid it?
How do we cope with it?
Is it important?
There are many questions I’ve demanded from the universe about grief for a long time and throughout my journey so far, I’ve learned some lessons. I’m not an expert on grief; I have not studied grief as an academic; nor have I had the worst grief in the world and can now enlighten you. All I have is my experience with my own personal grief and what I’ve done to understand it.
A few days ago, I wrote in my journal – Is it the meaning we attach to the losses and gains in our life that give us the experience of grief? Pretty sure Buddha teaches that suffering comes from attachment.
I used to take this as a message to avoid attachment at all costs and avoid the idea of love and bam I never grieve; I never suffer. But that didn’t leave me a lot of space for light in my life either. There is a risk in attaching ourselves to things, people, ideas, and whatever else. Somethings I’ve attached myself to have brought me more suffering than good for sure. But there’s been some experiences in my life that even though grief entered those experiences I could not make those experiences a waste.
I’m a fan of Brene Brown too and she constantly talks about the need to show up and be seen, be vulnerable, so that we develop connection. She says, “We are all hardwired for belonging and connection”. Ask 15-year-old Ange if this is a good statement and I’d probably scoff. Ask Ange today… I think Brene Brown is right (besides the fact she has a PhD in this topic and can prove it).
So anyways, grief. Attachment. Meaning. Connection. I think they are all connected but also all necessary. Vital to our survival as human beings.
Back to my personal experience; I used to hate grief. I would avoid it at all costs and if I did have a loss in my life I was not going to easily admit it, face it, or grieve that loss. I was going to bury it, ignore it, and essentially try and kill that part of me through all sorts of self-destructive behaviors. I see many of my friends, loved ones, and even people in passing still working to kill the part of them that feels the loss as to deny its existence at all. Their eyes are sad. Maybe not their persona that they exude to the world but the eyes; the eyes are always sad. People used to tell me the same thing. They would tell me repeatedly there was a darkness about me, a sadness in my eyes. And I would shrug, swallow the lump in my throat, and silence the voices inside begging to come out and be heard. The thing about pain, loss, and grief though, is it demands to be felt. Eventually your demons catch up to you and no amount of escapism is going to be enough. And that’s exactly what happened to me.
Now this is not the time to tell you my recovery journey, but I can say eventually I found myself in a place that the darkness was too great, I had forgotten what light looked like, and I was doomed to a self-destructive death if I did not learn to face the past I was running from.
After a couple of years of recovery and learning to face the losses which in turn means learning to grieve this is what I’ve come up with…
Grief in my life still hurts. It still knocks me on my ass and takes my breath away. But the meaning I give to grief seems to make is passable. Grief to me means I loved deeply; it means I invested. It shows I risked some heart. And so far in the short life I’ve lived that’s the most courageous act a person can do – to risk, to invest, to love is a brave act my friend. It involves heart break, hurt feelings, fear, and loss. But those cons don’t outweigh the pros anymore.
So, grief hurts. Love and grief may go hand in hand. But to grieve means I loved. And to love is the bravest. I’m a brave warrior who is loving, investing, and risking. And that is a beautiful life.
Be gentle with yourself my friend.
© Ange Neil 2018