The power of grief
Most people associate grief with the loss of a loved one. In fact, grief is the core emotion of many human experiences.
When you fall in love with someone, something- a place, a city, a pet, a ritual, a moment… you must simultaneously embrace the impermanent nature of all things, that it will one day change, perish, pass away.
In a way, death is not somewhere in the future but is happening in each and every moment. From a spiritual perspective, with each new day there is the death of yesterday, with each breath there is the death of your previous breath, and with each moment there is the death of the last. The same goes for each and every single moment you spend with your loved ones. Love, life and death are all happening simultaneously. It is only by learning how to grieve can you embrace the present moment.
In other words, to be able to live fully you must learn the process of mourning.
Without the trust that you can handle grief, you may hold back from love. Doing so will result in a kind of insulated existence, where you were tricked to feel ‘safe’, yet vacant on the inside.
If you have been hurt before or experienced overwhelming grief at a young age, you may have ‘trained’ yourself to cut off from the feeling of grief. You may be able to sustain this for some years - not allowing yourself to connect with others, to be touched by beauty, to feel tender and soft, to commit to relationships, or to let joy sink in. Your heart hardens as your soul cries, painfully and quietly on the inside. The most painful outcome of this is that one day, you realised the passing of time and feel as if you have not fully lived.
Grief is part of truly living, and living is not the same as avoiding dying and a painless existence is a vacant one.
Therefore, it is crucial to learn the art of grieving. For some, support from a counsellor/psychotherapist can be helpful. A trusted companion will help you to see how riding the waves of grief can set you free. A skilled therapist will teach you the function of bereavement and sadness, and that you need not fear such emotion.
This natural emotion feels more like an ache rather than pain. It comes in gentle waves, with a poignant and delicate nature. Like the sensation of pressing on an old wound, it can serve to enliven you.
Being alive means you are able to embrace and dance with grief, and with the impermanent nature of all things.
As Mary Oliver so accurately describes,
“to live in this world
you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”
This article was written by Imi Lo.