Updated: Aug 31, 2021
As I am working my way through the Grief Educator Course with David Kessler, I find myself having even more compassion for others. Compassion for Grievers....and Non-Grievers (those who have not yet suffered a loss or whose loss is distant enough to not be screamingly in the forefront of their minds). This is a good thing. Because in theory I have compassion for all. Don't we say those sorts of things when we want to imagine ourselves as enlightened? We say "I have love for all people and beings! I understand that we are all ONE!" ...and then we scream at the person who cuts us off in traffic or ignore someone obviously suffering on a city sidewalk as they beg for change. ...or we tell someone grieving to 'be strong' or 'don't worry, you'll bounce back.' or some other inanity that does nothing more than rub salt into the wound of loss. On the other hand there are those of us who are active grievers. Some are practical grievers who do not traffic in feelings and too, those who hide their feelings or numb them. Some, like me, suffered other losses in one way and yet another loss (like David's death) as an amputation....bleeding out, desperately trying to find help. Only...really.... The help we seek cannot put us back together again. Once again, as I witness other grievers, my heart aches in recognition and then I question. Just as I have questioned myself. "Everyone is just mean to me". (not something I have said to myself btw..although have asked about a couple of people specifically and certainly felt some of the other feelings of not being loved and feeling lonely.) I ask: "Is that true? That EVERYONE is mean to you? Not one person has been kind or compassionate towards you? No one has offered condolence or hugged you (Covid notwithstanding) or???? Your life has been beset by a continual attack of people whose only goal is to make you miserable? If so, then hunny, you need to find a new place to live where there is the possibility of finding others who will empathize with you and treat you with love and respect!!" But I hear the child who says those words now. The child in the adult's body who is feeling so intensely, so LARGE, that everything is amplified! The emotions are SO overwhelming that the easiest thing to say is "Everyone is mean to me!" Translated, admittedly through my personal filter, that statement says: "I am in so much pain and no one is trying to make me feel better!!" We are in SO much pain. And NO ONE can take that pain away. We are raw and unmoored and we just want to be out of pain...but also like a child, we sometimes have an idea of how that is supposed to look. And we don't really want anyone to take away the love and the memories...because...if someone came and said "I can take away your pain. However, that means you will never be able to think of that person again. All will be wiped clean and you will not have suffered this loss." Some might consider that. (Come on...this is the stuff of movies and stories...right?!) Most though would cling to those memories and that LOVE! "No! I just want the pain gone! I don't want to forget!"
Ah but my dearest! The pain is evidence of the LOVE! The pain is the reminder. You know it in your own bones, that if there was no love there would be no pain. So what is it...I found myself asking this morning as I read someone's pain.....that she really wanted? So now my question to her (and only here...there she is expressing her feelings and that is a safe place to do so...no attempt to fix or make better...just roll out the emotional wave onto a soft shore of other grievers, also in pain) My question...for the practical moment is: "What would it look like if people were not mean? What things would they do or say that would feel right to you? How would they talk to you and for how long would they treat your wounds? How would your life be different, knowing still that your person is forever gone?" I listened to the storyteller, comedian, writer, Kevin Kling last week. He spoke of having had Post Trauma issues after a horrific motorcycle accident. He said his therapist eventually asked him to write a different story about it. I have been thinking about that. Wondering about the secret behind manifesting that Louise Hay and others speak of. Then I remembered a story from Carole King about how she came to write the song Beautiful. (One of the few she wrote lyrics for) She was riding the subway in New York and seeing all the frustration and disgust and pain and anger on the faces of fellow passengers. She thought about that enough to start 'hearing' the stories behind what she perceived. She decided to see them differently. She decided to see the beauty in them and LO and Behold...she began to see smiles coming back at her! She saw the beauty in herself and then what was around her began to reflect what she was feeling. That's it...isn't it!? The 'secret' is in how we see things. If we project our pain out...how can it help but come back to us? NOW....don't misunderstand here. (Ha! let me give you instructions on how to understand...lol! I crack me up sometimes!) What I want to say also is that pain is pain. We don't have to bypass that. We can't! Rather, we find within ourselves, gratitude. Do you have a roof over your head, a bed to sleep on, food to eat, a way to get from here to there, clothes on your back, water to drink, a smile from someone you pass by, a book to read, a job, a pet, shoes, sunshine...or rain, a cool breeze, a flower, a tree, a bird.....on and on? Something small...or...something large...that you can be grateful for? I know....it does not bring that person back. I know...it may only work for a moment. I know...it is not enough to wipe away all of the pain. I know..... You want what you want...but do you really even know what you want? Will you continue to argue with the reality that your person is dead?
Will you continue to expect others to KNOW what you want, When you want it and HOW you want it? Or...will you find a way to let some light into the cracks? Will you find some small thing to be grateful for and keep widening that crack with more until you can find within yourself enough gratitude that the scales get balanced....not all at once...but gradually. Will you ask for what you want? What you need? Then perhaps you can live into the loss with both love AND grief. Hold both. Hold both. Have compassion for yourself....and let that shine out so that others can see that light and reflect it back to you.