The Courage to Grieve

“Sorrow held in is sorrow. But sorrow let out is the song…” – Mark Nepo

I am uncertain whether we come to Grief or Grief comes to us, but one way or the other we meet. It is a sacred meeting, though it may feel anything but. Grief, in her beautiful wisdom comes to sit with us, or better yet, we come to sit with her. She guides us into the foundations of our self, where, when we leave her, we possess an unshakable depth that shall sustain us in ways we never imagined possible.
I imagine Grief to be an old woman, with smooth plump skin, sitting on a park bench in New York. Having seen the whole world come and go, live and die, laugh and cry, she sits, humming the sweetest tune. She is the one who knows the Truth. She is at peace. When it rains, she looks up at the clouds and laughs. When the sun bakes so brilliantly it sings, she offers it a rich low harmony. When the snow falls, she wishes the adults, complaining of its inconvenience could see the children delighting in its magic. When the wind blows, she listens with intention. She loves the wind.

I know her, because I have sat down on the bench beside her more than once in my life. Once, when a relationship ended, I nearly collapsed into Grief. I sobbed. For years. And then one day, I got up. Realizing she had been holding me the whole time. She smiled, gently. I knew I would never cry those tears again. But moreover, I knew who I was, because every single tear that fell, washed out of me the belief that I had “lost” something. I learned in my grief that nothing which belongs to us can be lost. People may move on to other places (on this earth) or other places (not on this earth), but they are never gone.

Even as I type these words, I see my Gigi, with her once strawberry blond hair having faded. Her memory holding only a last few treasures, her body, forgetting to live and her spirit bursting at the seams to transcend the limitations of linear life. I see her so clearly. I hear her telling me tea length skirts make my calves look a little too big and I would do better with a full length or a mini skirt. I feel us driving in a pale blue cadillac, “Don’t mess with my Toot Toot” turned up as loud as we could stand, flying down the road from Tallahassee, FL to Thomasville, GA, laughing so hard we wet our pants (literally). I see her polished fingernails handing the microphone off to me, “Sing Tyler,” she says. She is still so alive in me. And that is the thing of it, Grief brought me from the daily experiencing of her to the foundational knowing of her. What I have now, can never be taken.

Oh but my friend, it takes great courage to sit with Grief. In the beginning, when the knowing has not yet come, it feels like pure darkness. It feels like the sun has forgotten our planet. While the tears pour out it, we literally ache in our bones. It becomes hard to hold the muscles of our face, so we let them all sag. Standing isn’t so easy either. Waking up may be the hardest part of all, but sleep is restless. And yet, if we choose, terrified, but choose none the less, to sit down on the bench beside her, Grief will hold us until we know her, and then deliver us into a spiritual intimacy that will draw us deeper into the True thing, Love.

Grief is not to be endured, but experienced. She is a conversation. She is the ‘Good Witch’ from Oz and when we finally rise from her park bench she smiles at us and says, “you had it in you all along my dear”.

So go ahead into her arms. Tell her, though she already knows, what has broken your wings. Let your tears fall, like only the brave can. Give yourself the gift… the gift that is THE COURAGE TO GRIEVE.