Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Trauma can exert a powerful influence upon our perspective on the world. When we lose someone or something we deeply treasure (a parent, a partner, a beloved friend, the ability to pursue our career or a special hobby) it is completely healthy to feel sad about it. It is normal to grieve the loss. When we do not grieve in a way appropriate to our needs the grief can become stuck inside us. Unexpressed grief has a way of making a person sick.
Since my return from my visit to Germany in May of this year I realize that I was carrying a deep layer of grief related to my earliest years of life. I suppose you could say that I never properly mourned when my mother left my life after she became deeply ill. I believe it can take conscious and consistent attention to our interior lives to really be aware of these deepest of feelings such as grief. It has been my observation that many adults have difficulty with grieving. I attribute some of this difficulty to the families they are raised in. And also one must consider the broader culture. It is my opinion that America is a nation simultaneously fascinated with and terrified by death. I think this is but one hallmark indicator of a troubled society.
I personally feel I could benefit from learning better how to grieve. I find it amazing that this most natural human experience should be so difficult for us. There are many ways to honor that which we have lost which causes us grief. We can do rituals. We can create altars, light candles and make offerings in honor of our beloved dead. We can honor that which has been lost by vowing to carry the best of ourselves forward into each new day. There are indeed many ways to grieve and to ultimately transmute our pain into something of beauty later on. That doesn’t mean the process is easy. But the process is most certainly necessary.
I realize that I presently feel grief in part due to the fact that my mother now has a degree of dementia. She is now firmly on that path that ultimately manifests as decline over some period of time. I feel grief for the mother I never knew and the relationship I could never have. I further realize I must find some way to transmute the grief, to alchemically transform the leaden feeling of grief into something else, so that I may go on and live a full life.
Grief has an insidious way of subtly undermining the vibrancy of our own health and lives when we don’t consciously acknowledge it. I see this has been true for me. I have seen this in the lives of good friends.
I leave you today with these questions: Do you have unresolved grief? If so, what have you not fully grieved? What commitment could you make today to move forward and release your grief?