Friday, August 5, 2011

Grief is Weird

I saw grief drinking a cup of sorrow and called out, "It tastes sweet, does it not?" - Rumi

The waves of grief come farther and farther apart as time passes, but they still crash over me now and then.

My mother died three years ago. Yesterday was the anniversary of the day I found out. We are unsure whether she died 1-3 days before she was found. For those who don't know, my mother died of an accidental narcotic overdose after a lifetime battle with depression and addiction.

Grief is weird. Sometimes it's big and obvious and all consuming, especially at the beginning. But sometimes it sneaks up on you. You feel a tug at your heart, a sadness out on the edges of your consciousness, and everything in your life looks a little bit darker, but you don't realize you're riding a wave of grief until it overcomes you and you feel like you're drowning.

I have been stressed at work the last week or so, unusually so, and while there are understandable reasons I feel stressed, it's felt out of whack for the way I usually deal with work challenges. I've not been conscious of the impending anniversary of my mom's passing, so it never occurred to me that I have funky feelings percolating under the surface.

I have also been anti-social this week. I usually have at least a couple nights with loves/friends, either individually or in gatherings. But this week I've been home every moment I can be. I've been introspective and experiencing a sense of processing, but no clarity on the specifics. I've been fuzzy headed and heavy hearted.


The last three years have been a constant ride of transformation as I open into ever deeper experiences of love and consciousness. As I look at the self-therapy process I've cultivated over 15+ years, it's in the last three that the most visible growth has taken place. I've made significant progress in managing my emotional world, both working with hormone therapy to address the physical causes of my moods and working to understand and manage my emotional triggers when they go off. I've made leaps in consciousness and helped raise consciousness in my relationships and community. I have become brighter as I learn to shine my Light with intent and confidence.

I am a work in progress, but I've progressed exponentially since my mother's death. She catalyzed me. She always catalyzed me. When I became a single mother to two children at 22 years of age, I realized that I needed to pull myself together so that my kids had a better chance of being healthy and happy. I promised myself I would not do what my mother did and send broken children into the world after dragging their childhood through addiction and narcissistic drama. After my mother died a friend told me it was an opportunity to be free of chains of my past and live my life beyond my mother's shadow. I took the invitation to heart.


I recognize I'm having a new experience of grief this year. It's lighter than previous experiences. I can feel where I have healed. I can feel where I have forgiven. I can feel where I feel great love and compassion for her rather than blame and resentment.

I allow myself to have the fullness of my grief experiences because I know it's vital to moving through. I talk about grief and recognize it in people more than anyone I know. Our culture doesn't make much space for grief. It's meant to be kept behind closed doors at home. It doesn't belong in the workplace, or in the store, or at a party.

At the end of my workday yesterday I had a conversation with a staff member in which she revealed her father is dying. She started crying and she apologized for doing so. She apologized several times in the course of our conversation for perfectly normal grief responses. I tried to tell her that she didn't need to be sorry for her feelings or how she spoke or crying or anything else that comes from grief.

We shouldn't feel that we need to apologize for our grief, however it manifests (as long as we're not causing harm to anyone). I desire to work with people in the heart of the grief process. I've been very conscious of my grief processes in recent years, not just around my mother but in all grief experiences. I'd like to do some study in grief counseling, but I think I've got a pretty good understanding of its complexity and have the capacity to hold other people as they ride their grief waves. I think it's important that people be validated for their grief experiences, no matter how weird they might seem.


I am changing so rapidly because I am embraced and encouraged in my process. I am held by several dear loves and a larger tribe of friends who know that I'm striving to be a healthier and more loving person. They reflect my light to me when I shine, they help me up when I fall down, and they forgive me when I totally fuck up. I know that if I reached out to them tonight I would have a friend by my side in less than an hour. I don't need that tonight but it's an amazing feeling to know I have it, to know I am not alone. For a girl who used to sit in a dark closet truly believing no one cared that she existed it's an incredibly big deal to feel held like this.

Every day I trust my visibility more. What I've noticed the past several weeks is that I no longer have the desperate hunger for a partner, I'm very comfortable being alone, and I'm seeking validation less and less. I seek authentic relating. I desire connected time with loves and friends. But I don't act out of a unhealthy need to be validated, to convince myself that someone is seeing me, even in circumstances that don't bring me joy. I realize after recent relationship experiences that I have a pattern of compromising myself just to feel seen. I desire to act from a sense of true connection and love rather than fearful hunger.

For three years I have been actively working to understand The Invisible Girl and to give her the love she needs to grow up and become the Visible Woman Who Shines Bright. Tonight I can feel how much progress I've made and how I'm moving away from doing the work of healing within to doing the work of my heart in the world. While I still have healing and brightening to do, I believe I've cleared away enough of the darkness to serve with my gifts confidently and create the career that will allow me to earn my living from serving others in periods of grief and transformation.

Whatever happened to my mother's consciousness when she died, I hope she can still witness the life I'm living. I want her to be proud of me and my children. I want her to see how our crazy life led me to a revolutionary experience of love and community. I want her to know that all I ever wanted for her - and for everyone - is to consciously overcome the fear that comes from past wounding and embrace the love that is possible. My whole life is dedicated to helping every life I touch experience more love and less fear because of her.


Image Source: Alice Elahi Seascapes

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