There seems to be a collective ineptitude around tragedy. People feel ill-equipped if not operating from a well-rehearsed script and apart from saying unhelpful things, this not knowing how to face grief head on, can end up meaning that people completely avoid it altogether, leaving the other person to deal with it on their own. It’s not something to be brushed under the carpet, it’s not something that can be medicated by another saying, “just stay strong!”, “you need to move on”, you’ve got to get over this”, “it’ll get better”, “let’s just go and do something that makes you feel better, he wouldn’t have wanted you to be upset”, “just grin and bear it”, “you’ve got to deal with it”, “that’s what life deals us” etc. We must not use positive focus, to move away from ourselves. By burying emotions, the grieving process takes even longer. It’s actually preferable that somebody let’s their life break down completely and then once they move through those emotions, life starts a new cycle.
Our ancestors knew that our natural survival and make up, was one of a tribal nature. This meant that if one was sick, then someone could look after the other. If someone was grieving, then there were others in a position to support that person, as they were not in that same emotional space. The way our society has evolved, is that we no longer have this woven fabric of community support which was part of natural human survival. It therefore, goes completely against the grain, to have a person fall to their knees and collapse in silence. That’s the reason why people who are faced with grief, chose to escape and run from it – because there’s no network of support to hold them.
In the 1770s in England, the black armband was first adopted, to signify mourning. In the Regency Era, 1795 to 1830, it was a societal expectation, that men and male children, wore black crepe armbands, along with black suits. When Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert died in 1861, to honour him, the royal servants, wore black crepe armbands for at least eight years. If we re-adopted this act of mourning and saw people walking around, with their grief exposed in broad daylight, whilst shopping for groceries or travelling on the underground, I wonder how our relationship to tragedy would change. Grief needs to be shared, not judged.
When something is lost, it can cause pain – and in its vacancy – resides grief. No one is exempt from loss. We must remember that the dark days are part of the natural order. Transformation is painful.
Grief can appear in every shadow and shade of life. The timeline for grief is unique for the individual and it’s completely normal, to feel as if you have regressed, in your evolution towards inner peace. The avalanche of pain, if you allow yourself to dip into it, is so consuming that it can be overwhelming. Grief feels fatal. The shock and violent trauma, brings us to a state of powerlessness. Greif is complex and it looks different for different people:
The woman who realises she has been in a cohesively financially controlling relationship, within the infrastructure of a domestically abusive marriage, who is mourning the lost years and comforts her younger self for not seeing what was happening and letting herself go through this pain for so many years. The best friend you had found in a dog, your grandma’s ring you could never find, a place that felt like home that you can never return to, a relationship or connection that was not reciprocated, a friendship that dissolved, grief for old parts of you that have been buried and forgotten which you wish you could express in order to be your true self once again…
The “power” of grief is driven through its purpose of which is to find connection once again. This is when we allow ourselves to “feel”, to “remember” who we are at our core and surrender to the fact, that we live in an interdependent universe, where one, cannot exist without the other. By swimming in the depth of emotion that grief offers, it reminds us that we are not detached or alone, that is simply an illusion that appears real – we are part of and integral to and of this world. We’re integral to the existence of source, as every time we learn and grow in consciousness, it is able to do the same. If we strip back to our true essence, who we are, all we really strive for at our very core, is connection and what’s submerging us in pain, is feeling the lack of it. We can only know connection if we know disconnection so grief, is an opportunity for us to find our connection once again. Without experiencing the opposite, we would not be aware of the other. Without dark, we would not be aware of light. Therefore, we will desire the opposite, when launched into the negative; if you’ve lost someone, you will want a sense of connection once more.
There is no way around grief. It is the great agent that navigates us through the “emotional scale”. We essentially start from a state of powerlessness; the trauma and shock you feel when you learn of or come to terms with, something or someone that you love, has now gone. The opposite of powerlessness is empowerment so now, as we move through the emotional scale of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – we will be seeking a way, to bridge the gap between the two polarities, of all emotional states. The process of grief will close the gap between the negative and positive emotional vibrational states, such as guilt, rage, revenge, pessimism, insecurity to contentment, belief, hopefulness, love, freedom etc. Therefore grief, is in fact, your closest ally, as it is not giving you any other option, than to surrender to and allow yourself to go through each level and dimension of every vibrational state, all in the purpose and pursuit, to lead you to become reconnected with yourself, others and the universe as a whole. It’s the toughest love you’ll face but the most profound and powerful. We then come to see the particular experience – dripping with all of its tragedy, pain and trauma – in fact enhanced our life. We will come to the understanding, that the lessons experienced in fact, added something to our life. Whatever the loss was, it will be regarded as a gift, instead of a trauma or pain. The value of grief, is that it transforms us, in enabling us to firstly become more in alignment with our true selves and secondly, we have the ability to see and comprehend, the fuller picture of reality, in a more profound way. You couldn’t have become what you are today and you would not have known all of the lessons learnt, as a result of the event. Grief can be one of the best catalysts for our lives. Your responsibility is to remember those lessons and pass on what they have taught you and share how they influenced you, in order to help others.
Intertwined in the evolution of the emotions felt during grief, is forgiveness. Forgiveness however cannot be forced, it’s a process that happens naturally. Forgiveness is reached, when we come to a point in our life, where we find approval for what happened.
Grief needs to be heard and this type of openness can be lifesaving. The pain can be so unrelenting. It therefore may feel hard or even impossible to keep a “brave face”, whilst you are simultaneously feeling disconnected from who you are and completely lost. If someone is in the depths of grief and is going through it in silence, feeling trapped in their mind and have retreated away from everything and everyone, with the intention of completely isolating themselves, loss can seem unendurable and intolerable, rather than simply painful and can lead to self-destructive behaviours, such as clutching to an addiction like alcohol, to temporarily numb the pain and emptiness. They may get trapped in a loop of denial, that nothing is wrong. Denial, however, will not lead one out of the cycle of grief. It’s paramount to remember that it’s okay to not be strong; to feel weak and vulnerable is part of the process. They may use a substance, to try to prevent themselves from feelings, that may arise such as guilt or shame and suffer quietly on their own. Guilt for example, may be felt as “survivors’ guilt”, feeling that they should have died in another’s place – or regretting what they did or said or did not do or say, before it was too late. This process allows one to revaluate life. It’s natural to question things when grieving. If there are regrets, “I should have…”, this time allows us to learn from those regrets. Grief takes up a lot of space in the body and mind and its all-consuming nature, if not dealt with in a healthy way, can mean that it overrides every life decision and thought process of an individual, keeping them within a state of powerlessness.
Bestselling author and widower C. S. Lewis said in the opening line of his book, A Grief Observed, “nobody ever told me that grief felt so much like fear”. What are we fearful of? The fear of losing ourselves, in the darkness of our deep anguish and pain. The fear of growing old alone, with no one to share life or love with. The fear that the intense pain and emotions will never cease. When propelled into grief, we can feel damaged, isolated and completely alone and therefore, afraid of everything because we are wading, through the sense of disconnection, presented before us. Every cigarette smoked, every lover gained, only to protect us from ourselves, is our desperate attempt to escape from our own emotion.
When people say the word “acceptance”, it usually means that they will “try” to be okay with something. However, rather than “convincing” ourselves that we’re okay, the healthiest approach to grief, is to find a sense of reconciliation and resolution. It is paramount that we are present with the sheer shock and trauma of someone or something’s absence. We must allow ourselves to submerge into the feeling, of the lack of a person or circumstance in our life. This is called “dipping into the void” and the pain feels incurable. That’s why, on grieving, it’s vital that this process is not done alone.
Grief has the power to bring people together and that in and of itself is healing. Everyone that is called into our lives, shares a part of us, as they mirror certain aspects of us. Therefore, even if they are not grieving, by allowing them in, you will be gifting them with your vulnerability, as it will be there to teach them deep lessons, that are going on in their inner and outer reality. Each of us, experience different emotional vibrational states so being in the presence of someone who is transitioning, through some of the hardest, only allows the other person to reflect on their own choices, motives and inner healing.
Regardless of whether you can allow someone to be with you through the pain, sit with and breathe into the intense emotions, do not fear this process or be resistant to it. Open yourself to emotions, be the participant and also the observer. Accept your emotions as they come; you will find that you do not have to let your emotions control you. Notice, accept and do not judge them; let them be there. Remind yourself, that it’s okay to “feel”, that’s part of being human. We don’t have to perform the same day in day out, according to societal values and beliefs. We are energetic form and therefore, our emotions flow through us like waves in the ocean. Sometimes crashing us senseless, then a relentlessness eb and flow, to calm and still and back again. It’s okay to feel grief and all the emotions that appear within it. Let the pain wash through your being and allow it to bound in and fester and then dissolve. Notice what’s going on in your body and breathe. Breathe and cry and as you’re detoxing, ensure you drink water. Do not hide your emotions from yourself or others. You don’t even need to react to the emotion. Do no suppress or try to avoid this process, in an attempt to escape it. Allow your strong emotions to move through you and listen to them and feel them intensely. You can let yourself feel. Lean into pain and turn over every uncomfortable emotion. Validate each emotion, until a sense of resolution with each is reached. When you’re completely with those sensations, then you in fact travel through them and you actually move and shift beyond them. Having emotions, means we have hearts. It’s not, how can I numb, suppress or end this pain instantly. It’s what’s the meaning of this pain, what does it reveal to me, what is it calling me to understand.
If we do not integrate grief and loss into our emotional body, this means that we will be manifesting more and more scenarios in life, where we experience this. This is because our emotional body, is calling out to us, to become whole. It’s a reflection of our mirrored wound. Our external world is a hologram of our internal world. As like attracts like, we will be attracting the same fragmented part of ourselves, again and again, until we understand and learn to completely feel and transmute it, in order for it to transition, from a negative to a positive. This integration can be quickly achieved through Inner Child Therapy. If negative patterns are repeating, we need to go back to when they first occurred. In the case of grief however, this is something that all of us, incarnate into this earth with, we are in fact united by it. We essentially lost ourselves in our birth into our physical form. We abandoned ourselves when we separated ourselves, from that which we truly are – from source. We are grieving “loss of self”, who we truly are at our core. By manifesting more and more scenarios, we are only being shown, that we need to go back to who we are, without any filters, facades and barriers. To be authentic and honest with ourselves. We suffer to the intense extent, that the desire within us to be whole again, is powerful enough to draw us back to ourselves, re-joining us back to source, as source and self are one in the same. Emotion is what leads you back to you, your true essence.
We must make a vow never to abandon ourselves again. We must make a vow, to be completely with ourselves in each and every moment of our lives, without needing ourselves or the way we feel to be different ~ T.S.
Grief is the last act of love, we can give to those we loved and to ourselves.