Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Grief and Gathering Strength

"Sunset" by Louie Rochon (used by permission)

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular
and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
~ Mary Oliver, When Death Comes

Yesterday a dear sister left this world. She lived her life with gusto, aplomb and originality, much as Mary Oliver's poem suggests. Many people, many women, continue to post their memories and good-byes on Facebook. Sassy Songbird certainly left a mark in her world.

Those messages are an acknowledgement of the grief being felt, the sense of loss. That's as it should be. We live in a culture that too often tells us to 'buck up' ~ in whatever terminology used ~ and not let death get to us. We focus in terms of 'seeing the person again'  and 's/he's in a better place' and 'God must have wanted another angel.' Although each of those belief systems holds validity, we have a right, and a responsibility to ourselves and those we love, to allow the tears, to feel the sadness, to experience whatever emotions arise ~ anger, fear, melancholy, bafflement, peace, joy, any emotion ~ and to express those emotions. Not to take them out on others, but to allow our hearts and souls to feel them.

Each emotion we feel carries us on the waves of healing. Our feelings help us to gather strength from within as well as from those around us. We become more of a community when we acknowledge our feelings to each other. It bonds us together even if those feelings are different. Sharing creates the bonds of strength. It also creates our internal strength. We allow room for others. We recognize our vulnerability. We grow.

Louie Rochon's image shows that sort of strength in the beauty of nature. One petal alone would not stand. Together, even though not tightly bound, the petals are strong and beautiful. As we are, when we allow the connections, the touching.

How does grief affect you? How do you express those feelings? and with whom? How do you gather strength from your connections with others?

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