Ode to Grief

I’m thinking, not for the first time, how much I love grief. You could be forgiven for thinking I’m a misery guts after that statement! I’ve certainly had my dance with depression in the past, and I am often easily moved to tears, but more often because I find something beautiful or deeply touching, than out of grief. For example, last night I sobbed after reading Walt Whitman poetry. My heart was aching and expanding and bursting… because I knew the feeling he was describing and it made me feel so good to be me…. that feeling of profound, unbounded connection with the spirit of nature. And today I sobbed after reading a letter written by an abolitionist about slavery in America. I cried not only because I was sad for the people who had been enslaved, but more so because of the fierce fire in my heart when I heard how passionate he was about standing up for what he truly believed in, even if it meant inviting attack and being ostracised, criticised, laughed at. What a courageous man! I also cried after watching a video about a war veteran who was overweight and unable to walk without back and knee braces and crutches due to war injuries. It wasn’t his sad plight that moved me, it was his determined fight to walk again when everyone told him this was impossible. I cried because he is amazing, and I wish I were that disciplined with my yoga! *laughter*. I guess like most people, I have an habitual fall-back emotional response…my ‘go-to’. For me it is tears. For some it is anger. For others it is fear/anxiety.

I love emotional pain, grief, sadness, melancholy… because it carves great depths into my being. It literally gives me depth. It deepens my heart. It makes more room for other emotions, after emptying me out to my toes and wringing me dry… I spring back out into an appreciation for what I do have, who I am. My tears so often gift me with gratefulness. That great emptiness that comes from a shattered heart, a knife-gouged betrayal, a wrenching loss…. makes me into a cup. I have learned to breathe into this space, even though it hurts and my heart just wants to contract and squeeze and shut up like a flower in the night…. I have learned to go into the centre of this space and take spirit in with me. Spirit, light, grace…the love of the universe… it/she/he is always ready to pour into my open wounds and seeks the depths of me so she can get a stronger foothold in my being. Those wounds, they open you, they create more space for light.

When I was a child, my heart was so open. I felt the wounds and injustices of the world in my own heart and it made this world a very difficult place to live in. As I got older, I simultaneously learned a smattering of skills I blended in various measure… a little closing and numbing; better boundaries; refusal to be manipulated into guilt; a realisation that my empathy was a gift; learning how to take another’s pain in and breathe it out again; faith in spirit and nature’s capacity to adapt and survive… and so much more. My latests gifts from life have been strength-based. I have had two amazing journeys out into nature that forged me like steel in a smithery. I guess that was the perfect solution- I trust my body and I trust nature…. far more than I might trust myself or other people. Being forced to push my body and mind to their limit in a harsh environment in order to survive and all the while feeling supported and sustained by the land that threatened to destroy me…. this has somehow convinced me of my own power to endure, and consolidated earlier life lessons where I learned the incredibly transformative gifts inherent in pain and hardship. I am not afraid to live, to love, to feel… because those things liberate my heart! The strength I know is within me can endure and triumph so it’s always worth diving in deep and being prepared to jump of the edges of high mountains.

I love you grief. Thank you so, so much, for all the beautiful gifts you have given me.