Originally published in the Sonoma Gazette, September 2016.
My heart goes out to all those affected by recent tragedies, notably the recent car accidents taking lives. It is the ultimate heart break when one of our loved ones dies. How can we be with all this sorrow? In our culture, grieving is challenging, as the tendency is to go unconscious, numb, or stuff it down and move forward.
The invitation to anyone who has suffered a great loss is to allow yourself to truly feel – whether gut-wrenching sadness, anger, shame, or any other feeling. There could even be relief, if it was someone with a complex health situation, for instance. All feelings are valid and they all move when acknowledged. There needs to be space to ‘go there’, to be witnessed in grief, this is a time when community is really needed. Support from a good listener can help sorrow move.
To support someone who is grieving, grieve with them. Love them, hold them, cry with them. Don’t try to change their feelings. Their tears will stop when they’re ready. Just be in their presence, holding them with love no matter what comes out of their mouth. We don’t want to push them past this too quickly into adopting spiritual beliefs. Let your presence be the support, not your words. You are enough as listener. Its not a time to share your own grief-filled past moments, that is too much for a grieving person to process. Let your friend have plenty of space to feel his or her pain. Sharing stories in an effort to help the griever feel better takes them out of their grief – it stops the crying, and the flow of emotions that need to happen.
Grieving means that we are real with the pain. It is not depression – which is the absence of the flow of feelings. In this society grief often gets suppressed, which does not make it go away. It comes out sooner or later, or manifests as illness. Our ability to feel sadness is directly proportional to our ability to truly feel love.
Buried grief can eat at the edges of marriage, and relationships with surviving children, and in time the chunks that are missing get too big. Learn instead how to allow deep mourning. With deep honoring of the loved one who died, this kind of grieving is an unwinding of our attachments, transitioning our relationship, and in time, accepting they are no long with us in physical form. By grieving we slowly release them to move on to their own experiences, and acknowledge they are spiritually connected to our hearts, forever. Letting go is the perhaps the hardest for parents who lose a child. This takes time, and professional or able spiritual support is suggested.
There is no shortcut, when a family and community reel from the deaths of two small children in Jenner, or a mother in a car crash, all in one week. Let your heart break wide open. It means you can feel the depth of that loss too, that it touches you. What we can do, as a community, is grieve, and surround the families with love as we are just a little bit stronger than they are right now. Let’s prop them up with kindness and presence. Help them tend their lives. And cry with them.
If it feels scary to let out all this grief, find a professional healer to help. None of us need be alone with our feelings, which can be overwhelming. Healing can come when we are honest with our feelings, and witnessed. There is no way to move the situation into a pain-free state without tears staining the ground. Healing will come, although the tears may never completely stop flowing. Grief may be one of the hardest times in our lives, and yet the expression of it strengthens our bond with our humanity and all our loved ones. To paraphrase Martin Prechtel, only that which was grieved, was truly loved.
Mardi Storm is the founder of SoulCentric BreathworkTM and SoulCentric PaintingTM . She was trained and certified by Clarity Breathwork, Diamond Light, and Lightbody. She is a graduate of International Academy of Consciousness, and is trained in Intuitive Process Painting, Reiki, Clairvoyance, Shamanic practices, and more. Through many pathways, what has distilled is the love of finding and nourishing the inner compass for creating one’s own unique pathway. She helps others access their deep inner truth, and encourages action into the flow of fulfillment and purpose. She has a lifelong devotion to spirit, and offers healing sessions and spiritual guidance over Skype/Zoom and in person in Sebastopol, CA.