Lessons of grief
The world keeps going, even though yours has fallen apart.
Grief doesn’t behave like anything you could have ever imagined and you will never be prepared for it.
You will have to learn how to breathe again.
You will need to feel in order to be free.
You will always have something that you want to tell them. Every day.
You will change from a known person to an unknown person.
There will always be before and after.
You will blossom when you least expect.
You will need to make room for things to fall apart.
We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy (Pema Chödrön)
Always keep something beautiful in your heart.
Life and loss process together, as do grief and beauty.
There is peace and clarity in nature.
The earth has music for those who listen (Shakespeare)
‘When your eyes are tired / The world is tired also’ (Sweet Darkness, David Whyte).
When someone asks you how you are, what you really want them to ask is ‘but tell me, how is your heart today?’
Your grief will often be indescribable, even to yourself.
There will be conversations and people that will change you.
Learn how to examine your heart and explore your soul.
‘Before you know what kindness really is / you must lose things / feel the future dissolve in a moment… Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside / you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing’ (Kindness, Naomi Shihab Nye).
Above the dark clouds, there will be sunshine again. It is ok to let the pain lift from your heart and to heal.
You will find a way to put your broken pieces back together.
But first, you have to make space. Open up your grief, sit with it and let whatever your truth, your pain and your brokenness is, to just be in the here and now.
Vulnerability is not a weakness. Vulnerability is a strength.
You will realise that you need to tell your story.
Our job isn’t to fight fate, but to help each other through. Not as soldiers, but as shepherds. That’s how we make it OK, even when it’s not. By saying out loud, by helping each other through (Lucy Kalanithi)
We need to practice welcoming heartache as something that can help us grow into stronger, more compassionate human beings.
You will come to accept the impermanence of life and understand that everything is precious.
Disappearance reminds us to notice, transience to cherish, fragility to defend. Loss is a kind of external conscience, urging us to make better use of our finite days… We are here to keep watch, not to keep (Kathryn Schulz)
Listen to your heart as a matter of daily practice.
You will need to find quietness in order to be able to hear.
You will learn to see more clearly through the eyes of your soul.
‘You cry and cry and cry until there are no tears, until the throbbing in your head grows stronger than the beat of your own heart.’ (Kao Kalia Yang).
‘Courage, dear heart.’ (C.S. Lewis).
You will learn to accept your sadness while at the same time learning that you are not your sadness.
Even when sadness prevails, there will still be magic.
You will stop rushing everywhere.
You will see things that you never noticed before.
It is a beautiful thing to give yourself permission to forgive. I tried my best today. That is enough.
Grief is like a feeling of being lost. It is a powerful stranger.
We are not here to try to change ourselves or the process. We are here to meet ourselves where we are.
And as I was walking I thought: “I will carry this wound forever.” It’s not a question of getting over it or healing. No; it’s a question of learning to live with this transformation. For the loss is transformative, in good ways and bad, a tangle of change that cannot be threaded into the usual narrative spools. It is too central for that. It’s not an emergence from the cocoon, but a tree growing around an obstruction (Meghan O’Rourke)
There will be order, disorder, reorder. On repeat.
You will learn to be kinder to yourself and to apply care to your heart.
You will let go of perfection and control.
You will start to listen to what your body is trying to tell you.
In the moments that you feel yourself entirely submerged, trust that your heart rate may slow, your throat may close and the pressure may build, but your body knows how to navigate this space, even if your mind does not. Every fibre of you is already working slowly and carefully to navigate this new emotional landscape, if you let it. That’s how survival happens – by gentle instinct, not by achievement or analysis. Take the time to be in your body, listen to every soft and hurting part of yourself whenever you feel the urge: beat to beat, without scrutiny, until you can resurface (Jini Maxwell)
There is a cruel irony in grief. In such deep and dark sadness, you also meet, head on, the beauty and sacredness of life itself.
You can carry grief as another expression of love.
My grief story is my story of love. It is part of me and always will be.
The only way to feel less alone is to acknowledge the darkness and pain of our grief.
You can be resilient by being grateful and through this, you will find your roots again.
You will learn to let things go simply because they are too heavy.
Read about the lotus flower. It is a symbol of strength amongst adversity. It can revive itself into activity after a long period of stasis and it blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.
If we have closed ourselves off from the world, the lotus flower teaches us that we too can reopen ourselves up to all that the world has to show us.
Grief is the price we pay for love.
You will continue living because it is an enormous privilege and adventure to be alive and you will find ways to reenter the world again.
You will find a way to gently carry your grief in your heart.
But also have a fearless heart.
Balance being vulnerable with being hopeful, but remember that you can never be hopeful without being vulnerable at the same time.
You will have to go just beyond yourself. Go.
You will find a new beautiful.
Music is capable of expressing the inexpressible.
We need to be more like trees - with roots reaching downward and out and shelter and sanctuary where the ground water runs deep.
You will learn how to be present and come to realise that at the end of the day, it is all that we have.
My sister has never left my side. She is alive in everything that I do.