Reflecting on Grief, That Age-Old Walk Through Dark Country

I’m reflecting on a setback I’m having right… now. And after a good day yesterday. A phone session with an inspiring new client, lessons with two super-fun students, an empathic hug from their sweet mom. Poker night with two of my sons and their ladies. Then, boom. Grief storm. I cried off and on all night.

And yet, I also know everything is OK. It’s just a natural expression of the yin and yang of all things, including grieving.

Strange new territory

So now I’m writing my way through this particular neck of dark woods while listening to Pandora’s “Rain Radio.” I played it for my mom the night before she died. Now it’s one way of keeping her near me.

And I’m feeling the inner roller coaster ride of these two months since her death. I’m seeking guidance and direction, too, in this unknown terrain. And in new ways.

Everything really is OK

The bottom line is that grief has me hovering at the cusp of a dark place. Falling in at moments. Or for hours. Climbing out again.

But I know everything really is OK. My mother and the beauty and complexity of our relationship are worth this heartbreak. It makes perfect sense to both my logical mind and my deep feeling function.

In fact, I’ve given myself permission to check in and out of “ordinary reality” as needed. Because the truth is that I’m also in explorer mode, as always, intent on learning whatever I can of the human experience through this pain.

Learning and changing

So far I’ve learned that I go from intense need for solitude, and for truly unstructured time, free of productivity demands, to intense need for human contact. But of a certain kind: companionship that can be with me right here, where I am right now, grappling with grief up close and personal. Because this season of grief is changing me—my priorities, my obsessions—in profound ways that I can’t fathom yet, much less express.

I’ve never been here before. And I can’t see through this veiled moment. Gotta live my way through it.

Nothing to fear here

I’m not afraid, though. I trust this process. It’s the explorer in me.

And I realize how stable my life had become of late. Stable in ways I didn’t know I could lose through feeling so searingly painfully the loss of another.

I didn’t know that what may have become a phase of stasis gives way, in the face of the tipping of some great hourglass, to… what? So far, I don’t know. At least I don’t have words for it.

And yet, I know all this feeling is healthy and right. Not to be dreaded, swallowed, papered over. Made pretty. That in fact doing so could be the makings of missed opportunity and even future trouble.

It’s time to take time

Because one thing I do know is that grief will have its place, time, and impact. That’s whether honored and given its due, or driven down into the unconscious if we try to avoid the mess. Or if well-meaning others succeed in advising or expecting us to close that door and “move on.”

After all, you can’t cram for and knock grief out, like prepping for a meeting or taking the written test at the DMV. I have a new phrase for the present: soul time. In which “linear time” is no longer the end-all, be-all.

In fact, I’m thinking a lot about the soul these days. This is one of those times when it just demands what it wants and needs, what it knows is the work at hand. Work that may alter our creative, contributory, and relational capabilities, and thus our destinies.

It is what it is, for now

And again, I trust all that. I honor it. It’s one way of honoring my complicated mother. Of honoring these precious lives we’re all gifted with, both our own and those dearest to us. Those still with us. Those we’ve lost.

Because, in truth, I’m still on my path, and in fact growing in my capacity to stand with others in their own seasons of grief. I’m still creatively engaged, feeling my way. So far that’s all I know. And it’s enough for me.