Saturday, September 21, 2013
"Not every grief has trauma in it but every trauma has grief."
With each passing day I have continued to gain increasing clarity regarding what has plagued my heart and health recently and over the course of my life. And I come back to the same theme many, many times. It's grief!
When I recently visited with my therapist we did yet another session utilizing EMDR. In this most recent session we visited another time in my childhood and I discovered yet again a grief I never fully expressed at the time I first felt it. As a pre-teenage boy there was once a time when it seemed as if I might 'inherit' a brother; at one time my father was dating a woman with a son of her own. So many years later I recalled the thrill I felt when it seemed more than merely highly improbable that I might have a brother of my own and even one basically my own age.
My father ultimately did not marry this boy's mother. Life carried my father and me on a different course. And yet the sadness and grief I felt when this possibility of greater boyhood companionship never materialized is something I did not feel fully at that time. I didn't fully feel and release the grief I felt at that time in my life.
I recall even now how it felt like such a magical time in my life at that time. Around this same time I had become fascinated with the skies above. A summer trip to New Mexico stoked my passion for stargazing. I remember there had been the possibility that my 'potential brother' and his mother would make the trip to New Mexico as well. That didn't ultimately come to pass either.
What I am beginning to appreciate more and more is the wisdom that was shared just last week at the Minnesota Men's Conference. One of the presenters, a therapist based in California, spoke of how grief is very much a private affair in American culture. And yet the privatization of grief is a very, very recent creation. For most of human history people lived in much more coherent communities based on tribe or clan. People had a community of support to look to in times of grief and struggle. This is sadly lacking in much of the industrialized, hyperactive West. And in the loss of those spaces of authentic, deep community we have become very impoverished on an individual level.
In my own particular life journey I see now that I have struck that deepest and most immense layer of grief. And yet grief still is such a mystery to me. And I imagine it still strikes even the most seasoned 'grief experts' as mysterious as well. Just as with trauma there are different types of grief. We can carry grief related to very personal experiences of loss. And then there is the grief an entire people may feel when they experience the horror of genocide. And I suppose there is even another type of grief we may carry both individually and collectively that is a healthy response to the horrors of what we have allowed to unfold on this planet. Fukushima. Three Mile Island. The Holocaust. Vietnam. Agent Orange. There are so many horrors we humans have unleashed on ourselves and the Earth itself.
As I made my way to a shamanic drumming circle tonight I was able to appreciate the amazing beauty and light on the other side of immense grief. I spent much of the afternoon contemplating the horrible devastation of Fukushima. On my journey on the bus to the venue late this afternoon I found what lies on the other side of immense grief. There on the other side is immense joy. I marveled at everything. I marveled at the way sunlight was falling upon the many trees around town. I enjoyed the sky, the air and the immense variety of people I encountered. It was beautiful!