Grief is not something that happens to us, but with us. Because of love. Because we’ve lost something. Because something was taken. Grief is our guide on the journey, not our kidnapper. A partner, not a foe. A companion, not a bully. A teacher, not an abuser. A gift, not a thief.
Paradoxically, the deeper the wells of grief are carved out, the more joy we can hold.
So, Grief, you are welcome here. You are not an invader, a party-crasher, or an unwelcome intruder. You are meaningful. You have purpose. You are here for a reason.
Show me what I need to see. Teach me what I need to know. Lead me through this dark valley. Expand my interior landscape in a way that allows me to know the most joy.
I will stay here with you as long as I need to. I will not rush ahead and leave you behind. I’ll walk slowly with you when slow is required. I’ll sit with this physical weight in my chest. I’ll pay attention to the gathering tears, permitting them to fall when they accumulate to overflowing. I’ll continue to be kind, to work hard, and to perform the normal things of life, even as I tend lovingly to this hurting part inside.
We will do this together, Grief. You are here for my healing. You are not an enemy to be fought off, or an evil to be fled. You are not ugly, disfigured, or repulsive. Grief, you are beautiful, tender, and gracious. You invite all of me to attend. You want my anger. You are comfortable with my tears. You hold my flailing, afflictive emotions. You gently cradle my disappointment.
You invite me to be with you in physical ways, power-walking, and punching the shit out of the heavyweight bag. But other times, you remind me to slow, and I crawl into my bed, burying myself with heavy blankets and sleep. You tell me to light candles and take baths. And to lose myself in a good story.
When I listen to us, I can trust us to choose the best way forward in a given moment.
For a long time, you’ve walked closely beside me. But now, occasionally, I observe you further off, still with me, but giving me a little space. Sometimes you walk ahead of me, encouraging me forward, promising hope. But when my body is, again, wracked with sorrow, you lay down beside me, holding me securely until I can breathe again.
At some point, I understand that our intimacy will wane, and our distance will grow. As it should. From time to time, I expect I’ll receive correspondence from you, and I’ll recall the pain. But I’ll also remember with fondness the intensity of our time together. And I’ll be thankful.
Terry Loeman-Hansen says
Ellen, I absolutely loved this Essay about grief. You were able to express how I feel about grief and how it’s many facets of it. You definitely have a way work the written word. I love how your brain works.