Over the holidays, there was a point at which if I heard about one more person who was divorcing I would scream. The holidays tend to do that...dredge up our issues, leave us in touch with our tender inner children. My own inner child hates divorce, hates people behaving in un-loving ways. I was irritated, angry at the world for the presence of this pain, and all too in touch with my own pain over the three divorces I've suffered in my life (one my parents' divorce.) (Not that staying in a hurtful, abusive marriage is a badge of honor either, but there is still a loss). There was anger that swirled in a fog over the deep, deep grief.
I imagine the heart of grief as a burning fire, a blinding light, so white-hot and angry itself, so all-encompassing when it first encounters your soul. I imagine it burns with such ferocity that at first it feels like you will be burned to the death. And at times I have wished it would: "Just take me so I don't have to feel this pain." Yet there the grief settles, in all her passion. She is stubborn that way, and with her stinging heat, she demands attention.
An inner bargaining takes place for me. I try to run, but can only hide from her brilliance. I try to pretend she isn't there. I try to make a deal, minimize and tell her it isn't so bad that you have to burn so intensely. No, she says, and burns off another layer. Or two. No, she says, this is utter transformation.
Your house? Gone. Your loved one? Gone. Your family? Gone. The roles you thought you carried in your life? Gone. Your daily connection with those you loved? Gone. The burning has stripped you bare. There you are, just you and your essence. And what happens is that your essence burns back with brighter fire, brighter than the angriest grief.
It was in those moments, those moments of being stripped away, I felt my Self. Grief has no patience with artifice. She will burn away your masks, your sacred habits, your precious routines, your flimsy beliefs. She will take you squarely to your feelings, reveal to the masses your faults and mistakes, and ultimately show you to your strength....your gorgeous heart, full of love and anger and grief and pain for the world, for yourself, for your community. Full of love. Full of calm compassion. She did this for me.
This is transformation of the wildest, purest, and most destructive kind. It has to be destructive to complete the transformation.
Let us be gentle with each other. Those burning with the fires of grief can use the soothing of compassion. I am ever curious how people deal with their grief over their losses at the hands of fate and by their own hands. Let us be gentle with each other so our grief can emerge. If one does not allow the burning of grief to cleanse, one becomes stuck, bitter, cynical, judgmental, depressed, critical. If the burning heart of grief is snuffed out, a cold hardness, an inner cruelty, will remain.
For we burn with grief like we burn with desire, love, connection, drive, or need. We burn because it is important to burn for something, for we are human. We burn for what we loved.
In memory of loved ones who have passed. I miss you every day.
In memory of dreams that never came to fruition. I let you go.
(thank you to Jesua and Sylvia who in their own writings about grief prompted me to also write. It is a good day when one is creating)