For as long as I have been part of this work, I have heard about the importance of healing our grief. The importance of moving on, being strong and getting over it. I have probably said it a thousand times myself! And, frankly, it's bad advice. We don't need to heal grief. The word "heal" is doing us a huge disservice and it is in my opinion directed at the wrong need.
Grief is, without question, integrated into most of our experiences throughout our life. There are the big grief experiences like the death of those we love and then there are some of the more nuanced experiences like marriage, where some of us grieve the loss of independence. It could be said that our very first emotional experiences in this life is one of grief - we grieve the loss of a warm womb space, our mother's heartbeat, and the constant feeling of being nourished.
As we journey through this lifetime, our grief experiences continue to shape not only who we are but also, are there to remind us of what is most important in our lives. It reminds us to tell our children we love them as they leave for the day, it reminds us to call our mothers, to find purpose-filled work, to save for a rainy day.
Grief is what reminds us of who we are and there is no reason to heal from that.
So why do we always focus on grief as something we need to get over, to be strong through, to power through? Why do we blame grief for holding us back, for making us sad, angry, or resentful? Well, I figure it’s because we like to blame something other than ourselves when we think we are not living up to an expectation. If it wasn’t for this horrible grief, I would be just fine. If I hadn’t lost [fill in the blank] I would be normal and healthy. We are in a constant struggle between needing a reason or rationalization for not being “healthy” and accepting that grief is part of our lives and always will be.
It’s like blaming the lighthouse for the swell of the ocean.
What if, we could be okay with the idea that grief is healthy and whole? That crying for years makes sense. That keeping their things is ok. What if it’s ok to not try again for a while? That grief itself is the healing.
Our relationship with grief is what needs healing, not grief itself.
So very often, I see people who think they have to be strong and push away their sadness or resentment to heal their grief, to get over it. And I believe that not only does it betray and abandon what is most important to us but it shames us into believing that we are not healthy to feel this way.
If we can focus on developing a healthy relationship with our grief and see this beautiful honouring as something that guides us through, that reminds us to love deeply and dares us to love again, grief would be the lighthouse and we could focus on learning to ride the tumultuous waves because of it.
If you want to heal your relationship with grief consider joining one of our events, programs or certifications.