Dear Amazing Woman,
Grief visits everyone. It comes in many forms, as Rosanne will tell us. Most of the time, when we find ourselves suffering from grief, we try to stamp it out, fight it, or ignore it. Rosanne’s approach is refreshing and effective:
A Word About Grief
by Rosanne Carlson
I’ve noticed lately there seems to be a tremendous amount of grief flowing throughout our society. I know of family members, friends and acquaintances who have lost loved ones in the last few months or recent years, and I feel compelled to say something about it. People have lost parents, spouses, friends, pets, and the most difficult of all losses, a child. I can only imagine that pain.
We all suffer grief at some point in our lives, some more than others. And, we all have our own ways of dealing with it as well. Grief came to visit me on Oct. 13, 1982 at about 2pm.
My son experienced a severe and traumatic entry into this world and had no heart rate or respiration for six minutes. He was resuscitated and as a result, suffered severe brain damage, cerebral palsy, and had a seizure disorder. I’m not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me, because my son has been the greatest blessing of my life.
I’m telling you this because I felt and experienced the grief of “what could have been.” And, it has lasted for over thirty years now. I will tell you how I decided to handle it, and maybe, it will help you, if you are grieving as well.
Of course, I felt all of the typical feelings of loss (he won’t get to live a normal life), anger (why did this happen to him/me?) shame (my child is less than perfect), guilt (could I have done anything differently?), and on and on. It’s all of those awful ‘what ifs.’
Grief can make us feel a bit crazy and out of control for a period of time. But, when grief becomes a way of life, it serves no higher purpose to anyone, and we can destroy our lives if we allow it to take over our outlook on life.
Let’s try to imagine it a little differently.
Let’s imagine Grief as an old acquaintance. Grief comes knocking at the door in an unexpected moment. And, you are not prepared for this visit.
Grief pounds on the door of your heart, shouting, “Let me in, let me in!” What should you do? Try opening the door of your heart and invite Grief in for a visit. It’s ok, it’s normal, except you just never know when Grief is going to show up and interrupt your day.
You say, “I had things to do, and then you showed up unexpectedly. I was cleaning out a drawer, and saw my loved one’s picture, and then you started pounding on my door and I didn’t want to let you in…but, I guess it’s ok, you can stay for a while.”
After a while, you realize that Grief has overstayed her welcome, so you gently guide her to the door, and tell her, “It was nice visiting, but I have other things to do today. Goodbye.”
It was a necessary visit. Perhaps, you can even begin to look at Grief as a friend, of sorts. With Grief you can share laughter, good memories, and some happy tears. In the past you have shared anger, sadness, and a deep sense of loss.
Grief may not be your best friend, but perhaps, it is a necessary one. Necessary for your own growth, and the growth of others; perhaps, you can ease someone else’s Grief. A kind word, a hug, a knowing glance. You can be a person who listens without judgement, or wipes away their tears, and lends a shoulder to cry on.
One last word: I caution you to not allow Grief to become your best friend. Give Grief boundaries. Do not allow Grief to become your roommate or permanent resident in your heart. If Grief becomes your only friend, then you will never again appreciate the joy of living with those left behind, and honoring the memory of the one you lost in the highest and best possible way.
I believe our loved ones are still with us, and love us, and would wish for us to honor them by being the best that we can be. They are watching over us and sending us love that is beyond our comprehension!
Elkhart Tolle would agree with Rosanne. He says, “What you fight, you strengthen, and whatever you resist, persists.” So the WAR on anything (drugs, cancer, Alzheimer’s) is not effective.
Personifying grief to befriend it, and work through it echoes the wisdom of John O’Donohue. John’s invitation is to view the body—legs, head, fingers or any part body that holds pain—as a person. He advises us to have a conversation with it and ask what message it has for us.
I trust that you find comfort in Rosanne’s message. I applaud you for the courage it takes to get up each day to live fully, with poise and grace.
May your self-trust build confidence,