Sharing our grief stories
With different pieces, and into new spaces, I have slowly put myself back together. I now carry my grief as another expression of love. I know that there isn’t going to be a time when I arrive at a plateau where I have ‘sorted it all out' and I don’t really want to get there. My grief story is my story of love. It is part of me and always will be.
Yet we live in a grief illiterate society that constantly challenges this, where as author Ali Smith has said, we aren’t allowed to articulate the shock of mortalities – ‘it’s very hard to articulate grief in a world which doesn’t want you to, which tells you to push on, to continue.’ This confronts me on a daily basis and it is one of the reasons why I write – to be able to say things that are not always possible to say.
Maria Sirois is a clinical psychologist whose brother was diagnosed with cancer and lived 10 weeks post diagnosis. Maria has started to teach a short course on happiness after loss and dark times, and in a recent interview, she was asked the key lessons that she is trying to teach people:
… let’s acknowledge how dark it is, so to really acknowledge reality as it is, how bad it feels, how confusing it is, how disoriented you feel, how angry you are, et cetera, so to face reality as it is.
…really become clear within yourself as much as possible about the why of your own living. Even as my brother has passed, does that mean I’m going to give up on life? What is the ‘why’ now that I am a woman without a younger brother, in body anyway? So what is the ‘why’ now?
Though it is uninvited, we need to be open to the powerful stranger that is grief, and to what it will teach us about ourselves. We need to be authentic to the experience and to each other. To acknowledge the darkness and pain of our grief means that others will not feel alone. James Doty is a brain surgeon who is learning the work of truly opening his heart. He says that ‘when we go inward and our heart is open, we will connect with the heart, and the heart will compel us to go outward and connect with others.’
We can open our hearts by telling our stories. Because we know that being told what should happen doesn’t help anyone, but telling our stories of what is happening will help everyone. And maybe that’s our 'why' now.