P.S. Ocean provided the photos.
|In the arms of the father|
hours before dawn. Grief has kept me up again. Woken me after a few hours of restless slumber, with a dream that challenged me.
An important caveat: I am not a psychologist, nor health professional. Deep, long lasting emotional pain may be a sign you need pursue additional support. Don't be afraid to seek it.
|Daddy and the boys|
Here are some things I have learned, helpful in processing my grief.
1. Take time to grieve. Our culture values above all else the ability to
perform, requiring a stiff upper lip. Grief requires the opposite. If you
work in an environment where professional appearance is the norm, grief
will throw you. If possible, take some time off. Or if you must continue
to show up, take breaks as needed, to feel. And of course, sometimes the
|an ocean of tears|
2. Let the tears flow. Weeping is a natural process, with countless studies
verifying that toxins are released from our tear ducts, stress hormones
relieved. We feel better after a good cry. How much? As much as you want.
You may or may not want others present. Sometimes, alone in an empty place,
I can let loose tears and wailing I would otherwise withhold, for fear of
disturbing a witness.
3. Keep physically active. Exercise, rigorous, or gentle, helps move grief.
Like crying, physical exertion helps release the hormones of stress. The
simple act of walking helps emotion move and flow. Alone or with a friend.
Move through your grief.
4. Nourish the body. Keep eating, good food. Avoid alcohol or addictions.
Numbing the pain might be tempting, but better to feed yourself whole,
nurturing meals. Take yourself out to eat if you don't want to cook.
5. Creative expression. Write in a journal, compose poetry, paint, dance, work with clay. Take your emotion, bring it out into an external form. Art is a representation of the heart. Sharing this with others can move the
|find places to reflect|
6. Devotion and contemplation. Your spirituality can be a solace at times of grief. Or can be a source of further pain. Dark nights of the soul challenge the strongest. You are not alone. Seek support from those you share your faith with. Or your doubts. Sharing this pain helps connect you to the universal experience. Everyone has felt loss. And will feel loss.
7. Humility is a gift. Grief strips me down to my naked core. All pretense and judgement is cast aside. All my most cherished beliefs, arguments, politic, attachments, gone. Here, faced with my own hollowed out core, I find a truth I hadn't expected. Humility, I am open, broken, terrified,
alone. And stronger for it. My heart can hold this pain. Bear me up, ready to open again, to love even more deeply.
I recall a Zen teaching: There is no suffering. There is no end to suffering. Attachment leads to suffering. And I welcome this season of the heart, this dark night.
|"its heart may stand in sun"|
"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
"Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
"And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
"And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
"And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
~~ from The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran
You can read more about Ocean's journeys here.