I have been steeped in grief for a long time.. Indeed for all my life.
Somewhere deep inside me is a wild, old keening woman, holding close her sorrow, ready to mourn and grieve with others, as an initiation into life.
Starting with my arrival into the world with a cord around my neck, a proverbial ‘blue baby’ – luckily for me a wise midwife was on hand to slip the cord over my neck and hand me to my mother. I wrote a story on this once, the drama of such a birth…
And I write this now on the birthday of my own daughter, births are on my mind at the moment! Her birth was ‘normal’ , powerful and beautiful. I cannot imagine that for me.
My arrival has been revisited numerous times in my therapy, as I explored again and again my capacity to live in this world, or not…how it has affected my breath and wonder, my wish to embrace living yet fearing death and loss more… so many explorations… with grief being at the heart of them all.
Grief has held me in her arms, and given me a caress of loss and aloneness… it has steeped me in a heart ache beyond anything I often can bear. I have touched this ache of arrival, to a world I felt did not want me, had already decided I was not going to live, maybe already given me up for lost.. A challenging start, And it has informed many aspects in life, given great gifts. I would not want it any other way.
I have recognised the value of being alive, the impermanence of all, the ache of love and losing love, and the sorrow of feeling other’s loves and losses from these times… being immersed in this journey for so many years, it has taken a long time to realise not everyone has these qualities! Not everyone uses grief and keening to value life.
As a young adult I would walk the canals and by ways where I used to live, crying and wailing at the waters, not really knowing why the tears were coming but knowing they were like balm to my soul, helping my heart remain open.
With the coming of middle age, I spent much time with cancer patients and their families and learnt the language of loss from a more academic viewpoint, as well as therapeutic – I was never afraid to sit with the agony of coming losses, or explore this journey with others -somehow it was familiar territory, even though each grief and loss is nuanced in a different way.
In my own therapy room, I sat often crying, wailing, examining those feelings, the depth of this grief with its many many layers, as I seemed to touch agony both personal and collective. Indeed I did..
And yet, how was it that I knew loss, grief, mourning so well? I had lost close relatives, yes, but only at a suitable age, no great dramas – no bereavements or losses stood out to me as being those which gave me the edge of knowing, the dark alchemical journey we took together.
I knew intimately, knowingly and profoundly, this force we call grief – from my birth.. and it has taken me many years to recognise and accept this, know it as wisdom.
When I experienced heartbreak from separation, I discovered how true this was. Even during the relationship, I came to realise what I had always known deep down – it was in me, innate in my being from birth, to use grief as a way to grow, make sense of the world, to allow the loss, the recognition that all is impermanent, to begin to make sense of the senseless, when the deep heartache of a loss so profound it stops you breathing – this was my familiarity, my language if you like.. only through grief could I reach my joy.
I reached the deeper caverns of the dark soul of loss.and the light finally dawned!
I remember something – a few years ago, I attended a wonderful weekend workshop abroad, exploring our dharma path, from a deep spiritual and awakening perspective – we visioned who we are and what our true gifts are that we carry – I saw whole heaps of coal, black, dark and heavy -and the words that came were that ‘ I can transform the black coal into gold. ‘ The coal was in carts from the mines, and as I watched each one became immersed somehow till it moved along a meandering track and beyond to a place of glowing light. This is my recognition now. It is what I do and have done all my life. I do it for myself and I do it with others in my work.
Despite knowing these visions, I never really allowed them to shape my life and even resisted this – leaving my working life within the cancer care and bereavement work was vital to uncover the next layer. This transformational, alchemical and soul piece… a key part of being human and profoundly enabling of our capacity to feel and be alive. Without a sense of grief and sorrow, we cannot truly know ourselves. Without allowing this to touch our hearts and souls, we cannot recognise the human frailty we all live with, or care for others or ourselves, – we become shut off from our deep humanity.
Somewhere deep inside me this wild, old, keening woman, is coming to life..I embrace her.. she is my portal to life.
And I am returned almost full circle, ready to incorporate this into my being.
It gives me such joy! Yes the grief and the lessons, they are here to remind me how much joy and life is in me.
As I explore what this means for my life, much will emerge… I may hold grief times, circles, to bring us together – as one of my longings is to truly be part of community. And I am available now for sharing grief portals… not from the perspective of limited time spans or preparation for loss or death, but from the deeper recognition that we all grieve, and need to grieve, to enable life to do its work through us.
It may even finally bring us together to create villages, the great gatherings I have been told about which are going to occur over the next millenia.
For now, touch your heart, as I do mine, and say to yourself…’ I allow myself to grieve for all that is lost, and to welcome in the shape of that grief, till I know how to express myself at this time.’
As this is written at the time of the Corona Virus outbreak when we are returning from ‘shelter in place’, and a stopping of the world for awhile— into a new world which may never be the same as the old… there may be deep grief and agony somewhere inside you for all these changes, losses, and differences… let us face this and allow life to show us where it sends us now…
Feel free to contact me if you wish for more support or insights…
With all my love.