What grief can teach us

I just finished reading a beautiful book called the Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller. In it, Weller explores the sacred work of grief and the different rituals we have for renewal.

Part of being human means encountering grief and loss in many different forms. At this moment, each of us is experiencing some form of loss as the result of the pandemic: the loss of personal and collective freedom to ‘move about the country’, the loss of income, health, time with loved ones and an old way our world once operated. 

Yet, grief is an emotion most of us are reluctant to talk about, much less allow ourselves to feel. It makes us uncomfortable. It squeezes our heart and leaves a lump in our throat. We worry it’ll make us a downer to be around. Better to dodge it, rise above it or push through it quickly so we can get back to feeling happy. 

The truth is, there’s great wisdom and healing in allowing ourselves to grieve. Grief is a form of energy (as are all our emotions). When we ignore this energy or numb ourselves to it, we truncate an essential life force that’s meant to move through us. (No accident that “depression” is what happens when we push down our emotions–or try to shoo them away). 

Grief is inextricably woven into the fabric of our lives. It informs what we love and care about. It reminds us that life is fragile. Grief also has the capacity to help us connect with our vitality and transform our sorrow into the song of being alive. 

Below are several passages from Weller’s book that struck me as both synchronous and deeply comforting. 

” Grief offers a wild alchemy that transmutes suffering into fertile ground. We are made real and tangible by the experience of sorrow; as it adds substance and weight to our world. Beyond the crazed hunger in our culture to be exceptional, loss and sorrow wear away whatever masks we attempt to present to the world. Like the massive stone carvings in the jungles of Central America that now lie broken on the forest floor, the monuments that we erect to our own importance collapse. We are stripped of excess and revealed as human in our times of grief. Grief ripens us, pulls up from the depths of our souls what is most authentic in our beings….

…..While it is difficult to embrace grief and be moved by its muscular demands, without it we would not know the heartening quality of compassion, could not experience the full breadth of love, the surprise of joy, we could not celebrate the sheer beauty of the world…..

What has become clear to me is the powerful role grief plays in enabling us to face what is taking place in our lives, our communities, our ecologies, families and culture. Through our ability to acknowledge the layers of loss, we can truly discover our capacity to respond, to protect and to restore what has been damaged. Grief registers the sorrows that befall everything that matters deeply to our souls. Our hearts are kept flexible, fluid, and open to the world through this closeness with loss.”

In what way are you honoring your grief these days? What is it teaching you? What is one gift that grief has brought you recently? 

I always love hearing from you. I’m all ears…xo