Dr. Nandi Hetenyi
May 21, 2018
Grief is an experience that is an inherent part of life.
As humans who deeply love and care, it’s natural that we grieve all of the different kinds of losses we experience over the course of our lives.
There are three layers to the grieving process. These layers often happen simultaneously and can feel confusing.
There is the grief for what has been lost. The grief of the loss of the relationship we had with what’s been lost. And, there is grief for ourselves, for the parts of ourselves that were attached, identified with, brought to life by, connected to, or known through this relationship (or relationships that never were).
When there is grief and loss, a part of us always dies with it. It’s not linear or clear-cut like stages or straightforward emotions. It’s a whole mix of things, including love and longing. Fear and confusion. Anger and shock. Shame and life-review. Unanswered questions and soul-searching. Searching out connecting with the Divine. Returning again to the our own hearts, ourselves.
In this last part of the journey, it is essential for our freedom from ancestral pain, individuating from our lineage, for self-love, inner peace, growth, and to meet the depths of love in our soul.
This last layer of grief, grieving for oneself, is often overlooked, confused or feared. It’s different from feeling sorry for ourselves. It is different from wallowing in pain. It is different from trying to fill an empty, existential hole inside of us with stuff or people or other things.
In its unmetabolized form, it becomes shame as the mind attempts to work through what our heart needs to release.
It’s also the place we are least likely to experience love and feel least equipped to maneuver with any grace. We live in a culture riddled with trauma and so, so, so much pain. We learn about ancient history and engineering and math equations and biology, but no one ever teaches us about the mysteries of our own hearts. We are divorced from the sacred, from the wisdom of love in the in-between, in the grief.
It is an act of compassion and love to acknowledge and honor our own pain. The pain of never having what we needed. Never feeling the love we longed for. The loss of not having needs met. The pain of our hearts being neglected, of the disconnection and abandonment of our own inner wounds. The loss of old aspects of ourselves. The loss of hopes and dreams. The loss of our own youth. Our own soul wounds.
Grief is love.
You do not grieve what you do not care about. To grieve for yourself, and to acknowledge with love and compassion all that you have survived, is the third portal of grace and freedom offered by grief.
Why are we more fearful of approaching our internal pain and allowing ourselves to offer love at the altar of all we have endured and experienced and survived and transformed and lived through?
Part of rising out of the ashes is the letting go through this grief, it is in fact loving all the places that haven’t been loved, that have been made long in their longing or wanting or needing. It is offering flowers at the altar of your own heart.
Take time to honor in the ways that feel right for you, and take time to honor your own heart.
It’s okay to grieve for yourself.
You are here, which means you survived a lot.
Dr. Nandi Hetenyi