Grief is a lonely process. This is the overlooked obvious, or so have we been indirectly conditioned in our society. There may be cultures that view death truly as a part of life, that create a more prescriptive understanding and healing for those dying and left behind. Then there are cultures like ours where life and youth are always more revered than death and dying.
We are expected to grieve for a set period of time, and then come out of our shell and return back to a “normal life”. Ultimately, this is perhaps to please those who have not yet experienced death at close range, Therefore, they can have the capacity to ignore its stubborn nature to show up eventually like a twisted tornado altering the landscape. Such alone grief time and eventually returning to mainstream living, as it was before, is really to please others, not ourselves.
No matter, we grieve alone. We have to deal with our daemons, the past histories, how the person who took up a key space in our life died. We have to deal with the process of loss of the person, the life we knew, and the expectations and hopes we had. We have to deal with the dark night of our souls, sleepless at three o’clock in the morning. We have to deal with the new structures that we may have to create just to make a living. We have to deal with understanding the true meaning of life. We have to deal with the pressure of getting to some normalcy. We have to deal with whatever you fill in the blanks.
While we contend with all of this and more, we may often yearn secretly for some company and for a support structure to lift us up just a little bit more. We expect our friends and family to show up at our doors often, unannounced even, to be present for our feelings, thoughts, sorrow, and practical needs. To our surprise, the chances are that we are less understood, more often than not. We may be shocked to see that it is not a given that we will be held in a safe and supportive space by those whom we have known for a long time. In addition to my personal experiences as a result of grieving the deaths of my parents and husband, I often hear from other bereaved about how difficult it is to relate to and connect with their closest relatives and friends.
We are all living our personal stories. Who are we really without all the stories that we get attached to? It takes a lot of practice and conditioning to be able to remove our stories and get to know our true nature, whatever it is. For now, we can leave the practice and contemplation to another time and return to the practicality of our grieving alone. As we tell ourselves this story that we grieve alone, what happens if we can sit with it?
What does it feel like, grieving alone? What happens, if we leave aside any judgments and expectations for how we should feel, for how life has been unfair to us, for how others should be treating and supporting us? If it is too hard to let go of the expectations, can we sit with just the feelings and thoughts we have while traveling this tough road in isolation? If it is helpful, one thing to notice perhaps is that nothing is permanent, including the way we feel at this very moment. It will pass and we may not know yet what will come next.
It is very easy to get lost in the hopelessness and despair. Who can possibly deny the trauma we experienced or the hardship we are facing? Yet, no one may be guaranteed to guide us or dictate to us how we should feel or recover or what our threshold for suffering is. We may also need and have our own knowing to guide us. We may have within us the healing powers as they may show up in their own time. Perhaps the way to find them is to listen to our inner voice, to our silent observing. While we remain solo on this journey of grief for however long it takes, the hidden self follows alone, quietly, like a shadow. No one can prove this unconditionally for me. But the faith that there is a bigger knowing inside me, with the biggest potential to guide me, gives me the hope that I need to keep going.
May we find peace and ease during our journey of life, grief and death. May we each find our inner healing.
Jan 14, 2017