I made a new friend the other week. We connected through our grief. My new friend’s 10 years to my three. We spoke openly and without judgment.
We quickly got to speaking about how we can get transported to the darkest times and how they can feel like yesterday, 10 years past or not. And it got me thinking about a post that I have wanted to write for some time now. I am so conscious to not ever make anyone feel that what they are feeling, or where they are, “isn’t right.” In the first year of my sister’ death, I couldn’t pick up any type of book on grief and I refused to read anything. Now I have shelves of so many different types of books. It wasn’t until I started to write that things slowly changed for me.
I believe that there is a need for balance between being vulnerable and being hopeful. Some days I sit at my desk to write and I am vulnerable. And I won’t shy away from that. A contemplated life is a testament to my grief journey and the fractures in my heart. Other days I am hopeful, and I am determined to write about that too, because in being hopeful I feel that I am honouring my sister’s memory the most. But I can never be hopeful without being vulnerable at the same time. I don’t want that to be forgotten.
I listened to an interview with the great cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He was asked about the state he is in, and the experience that he has, when he is playing, and how much more vulnerable he is at that moment than an audience might realise:
Yes, a lot of artists will say, “Oh, I have to make myself so vulnerable.” And that is absolutely true. If you’re well defended: “I’m going to show you how strong I am.” Then that precludes the idea of saying, actually, “I’m very weak.” Because weakness can be a strength as a form of expression.
So if you only show strength, you’re showing a one-dimensional aspect of something that you’re trying to describe. If you only show weakness, that’s obviously, one thing. But if you show both and you show the variety in between, you’re describing a multi-dimensional world, which is what we are, I guess.
"Weakness can be a strength as a form of expression." In vulnerability and hope I am determined to show both sides of grief and all of the variety in between. Yo-Yo Ma’s words also line with up something I heard recently that is now my guiding force – "have a fearless heart." And there is a song called "Persevere" by The Gang of Youths which just seems to sum it all up:
I thought I had a real understanding then of loss
But I didn’t know a thing ’til you were gone
And I’m tired of trying to find some sort of meaningful thing
In making sense of such unspeakable loss
I used to wanna be important, now I just wanna be alive
And without fear
You got to persevere