Melissa La Flamme
September 8, 2017
Don’t let anyone talk you out of your grief. Not even you.
The grief we feel when we’re in the midst of a great loss can produce a sort of disorienting agitation, an inability to focus, wrapped in some deep and intrusive sadness that comes for us as if to abduct us — not to torture us, but to deliver to us a potent healing elixir. Just really sucks on the way down though.
If you’re there, down on your knees, shirt wet with your tears, head pounding from crying, begging for it to stop, just know there are many of us with you. In a mess. Beautiful. Authentic. Deeply human. Broken open.
Getting tossed in salty waves of compassion.
Carried by the rip tides of existence.
Dumped onto the shores of tenderness and kindness.
Remembering that this place into which we are dissolving is a place of intense creativity. Of creation itself.
It is a place known for both healing-magic and danger. A place between the worlds. A place of genuine power to ravish us; to show us how to make and re-make soul from the re-purposed materials of our life.
Grief is a place to which I apprentice.
This is the sort of grief that comes for you when you lose a parent to illness or death, or when you realize you never really had that parent at all, not the way you needed. Or maybe it’s a longtime job you’ve lost. Or a lover, spouse, partner. Or your beloved cat or dog. Or maybe your own voice to speak truth, for your soul. Or maybe it’s the pain from a chronic illness.
Or the sudden ending of a very comfortable, but worn-out path you thought would never actually draw to a close. Or an old friend suddenly fades away. Or maybe it’s the loss of an illusion of how you thought the world would work, if you just did the right thing. Maybe it’s something akin to or very unlike any of what’s got you on your knees now.
So maybe you feel incredibly wobbly, unsure of your next step, literally and figuratively. Or maybe you feel like you’ve been taken to a strange and nether land, or dragged into a dark urban alley, or lost in a deep conifer forest. I mean, really lost. Feeling like you’re losing your mind. Like this is your own private apocalypse. And the thing is, it is.
But as a human being, it is, in part, what we are made for. To be lost. And to know that it will very likely not remain like this. This great loss you’re in will take shape, shaping your insides, showing you something of soul that may re-shape your outsides, and then it will all shape-shift again. And no one knows why.
In the throes of soul-rending loss like this, it is a sudden and traumatic death that confronts us. You can feel it when you stir from deep sleep to barely waking in the morning. When you completely forget that she’s just not there, next to you. That he’s gone. That you won’t hear her voice or feel his hand again. That the rhythms you played together have ended, like the music when the lights go out.
And at that point, you can’t even remember what music sounds like. You’re really not even sure if it still exists.
Go easy with yourself here. Soothe your wound. Seek real, empathetic support from others who show you the capacity to be able to sit with you in your grief, let you have this experience of being wildly human.
And seek, too, to protect your tender heart, now, from people who may not ever have loved as deeply as you do, and may interrupt you with incredulous comments about how it cannot possibly be that you’re not over it yet, that you still cry when you remember. That you cannot coherently tell the story of your loss. Not yet. Not to anyone, not completely. You don’t even know yet yourself what really happened.
Often people who care want to dry our tears, move us along — because our overwhelming grief almost always brings up another’s yet-to-be-dealt-with grief, along with an array of their un-dealt-with, and thus unconscious, feelings and thoughts.
Under those conditions, people who care about us will almost reflexively want to help us feel better, when feeling better is often only found through going all the way into the heart of what is a mess of a tear-soaked, snotty, wailing, pre-verbal state of grieving. Grieving, that is really a becoming. A becoming as vital — and as dangerous if not completed — as birth itself.
The invitation is not to get over it. But to go into it, into the grief that has you, the grief beckoned by the numinous, healing power of loss itself.
Go into your loss, your grief, your disorientation, with your heart breaking open. Open, I pray. Go gently. Go into and through the death of what was. The mourning of your loss. Make a ceremony, a ritual (like a very small, very private funeral; outside is best).
And don’t cut your mourning short or distract yourself with a frantic running away as if from death itself, nor with grand and good plans and a long list of terribly practical to-dos. If you do, the grief and the loss will chase you, travel with you like a dark bag you can never check in — not until you open it and go through what’s in there.
My prayer, now, is this: there is a place where every love goes. It returns to the Mystery from which it came. For the love itself does not come to be told and or even held. It comes to be embodied. Made wholly human and divine all at once. It is through our grief that we can continue to embody even a love that is, to our touch, lost. And with that touch, may you be carried from the tomb of your grief and loss, to the womb of new life.
And while there is no promise for you of that or anything else, there is always the knowing in your own heart. Soothe your heart by letting it grieve. And with your hand over your heart, may it open lavishly, to this loss, as you remember: grief is the doorway to love.
Melissa La Flamme
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞