Grief is a process. It is not just a single emotion, any more than anger or fear or doubt is. These are just sloppy labels we use to dull and remove ourselves from the intensity of so much work that is left unfinished – so much pain and fear and remorse gone uninvestigated.
Someone asked, “Do I have to get rid of my anger before I can get into my grief?” Anger is our grief, and until it is acknowledged and investigated, it may be difficult to get into the feelings that lie beyond. For some, it may be that until they explore whatever anger they feel toward the individual who died, they will not be able to experience a merciful awareness entering the subtler levels of their grief – or the deeper healings that accompany it. Unexplored anger may separate them from a deeper knowing of that person who is now grieved.
Actually, the feeling of not grieving correctly, of being separate from grief, is grief itself. It is that feeling of separation from ourselves and others to which the word “grief” can most accurately be applied. When we begin to acknowledge our everyday sense of isolation from that which we love most and with which we wish so dearly to merge, we begin to let go of the grief and pain that often encrust the heart.
In every loss is recapitulated all previous losses. Go slowly and with great gentleness into the dark night of the mind that’s been confronted with loss – and with all the losses that it puts us in touch with. Entering our grief directly, we see so clearly, perhaps as through no other lens, the remarkable potential for healing every loss.
For grief can allow us to see how cramped we have become. In acknowledging the pain, we can open past our long-held resistance to what is unpleasant – our resistance to life itself. We dissolve old partiality into a new wholeness – able to let old pains be, to let them go, without clinging or suppression. This clears the way for life to reenter a willingness, a non-condemning, that allows the healing to go so deep.
For many, the healing that occurs through the exploration and recognition of grief does not begin until loss has arisen. But for some, there is a profound recognition of the work that is to be done to meet our pain and our suffering now; to finish our business and allow each moment to be new. We see do clearly the necessity of breaking the continuum of old pain – of old separation and grief that ha often limited our experience of life, or ourselves, and of each other.
Meeting the grief in mind, meeting the grieving world with a bit more wisdom and forgiveness, we enter the healing moment fully alive.
And that is all of our goals – to be fully alive. Life is such a gift!!!