Are you Suffering a loss?
We are all, to one degree or another, motivated to find a purpose in both life and death. Suffering a loss of one’s child shatters any sense of purpose we may have believed in or held onto. After Devon’s soul took flight, March 2013, life seemed utterly pointless.
My self-image as a mother changed drastically as I was forced to discover an aspect of my mother identity that presented as a living nightmare: a mother whose son died at twenty-three. Was this who I was now, or was this a transition? I couldn’t seem to make sense of anything. I just kept on with my refrain, “I am now living a life I don’t recognize at all.” I felt lost and had no idea how to live this life I felt trapped in.
The days passed, and the grief slowly began to sift in and out of all the aspects of my life. Throughout the coming months and years, I came to experience grief in two very different ways. I experienced what I now call natural grief spontaneously arising as the purity and power of pain took over and flowed through my heart and soul.
This pure pain of grief is fluid, forceful, and alive. It grabs hold of me when I least expect it. It does not necessarily originate with a thought in my mind and often simply arises on its own. Grief is living me; I am not living it. The felt experience is of a powerful force of nature ripping through the very core of me. When the tears have ebbed and the power and force of grief have let go of me, for the moment there is a sense of aliveness, clarity, openness, and peace—yes, peace. There is relaxation, which naturally opens my heart and soul.
Natural Grief vs. Closed Grief
I also experienced the opposite of natural grief as closed grief, a never-ending heaviness in my heart, body, and soul. Closed grief did not flow through my heart and soul as natural grief did; it became like a block of cement shutting down my heart rendering me numb and depressed. Neither experience of grief is right or wrong, both simply happen.
This is when I began to realize what was most important to the natural power and healing of grief which is an open heart. Yes, it is that simple, keep your heart open to all of it, pain, fear, moments of joy, love, longing: heaviness, cement —whatever arises in your heart. The tools I found most helpful were simple — just show up and breathe.
One substantial impediment to the free flow of grief is allowing ourselves to be co-opted into believing a ridiculous set of lies: that loss is something to be ashamed of, that realizing loss and being with it is to be avoided at all costs, that it’s negative, that it’s curable, that you should get over it, that there is something wrong with you, and on and on.
Most Americans do not fully allow the experience of grief. We are conditioned from a young age, to absorb an attitude of materialism, to focus only on pleasurable pursuits, to always be positive, to shut our hearts down in the pursuit of status and prestige, and to chase happiness relentlessly at all costs. We are conditioned to believe everything except the truth about loss: loss is a fundamental part of being alive.
Letting grief have its way with me, without feeling like I needed to fix it or clean it up, allowed grief itself to be more fluid, dynamic and healing.
Grief has a life of its own, a timing of its own that is an intelligent healing process. It may not make sense to the rational mind, as its intelligence is far deeper and subtler than any conventional form of intelligence. Keeping an open heart and mind frees grief and brings guidance as we learn to live within our new reality— a life we no longer recognize.
It is my open heart and soul that allows my son’s spirit/consciousness to maintain contact with me in lighthearted, playful and joyful extraordinary experiences.
It is my open heart and soul that has allowed the experiences of love and joy back into my life while also living the unthinkable, the loss of my twenty-three year old son. Our recently published book Amazing Adventures With Dev chronicles this journey of wonder, love and joy.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
I have finally accepted and honor this life’s adventure of the unknown. I continue to work on trusting that every experience is a gift and teacher for my further self-awareness.
2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate within yourself and/or life?
I have learned to appreciate my bold and forthright style of communication. I continue working on appreciating each and every moment of life.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? And what makes YOU most proud? Any goals and dreams that you still have?
My most rewarding achievement in this life is co-creating, writing and publishing, Amazing Adventures With Dev. I try to live fully in the moment therefore there is no need for goals and dreams.
4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
I find myself very funny and often laugh at my antics. Simply being a human brings imperfections such as limiting my awareness with habituated patterns of behavior, one example of this is criticizing myself and others.
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my capacity to persevere in the face of fear, insecurity and uncertainty and to experience love wholeheartedly and fiercely.