I’ve been thinking a lot about grief. The Merriam-Webster definition of grief is: (a) deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement, (b) a cause of such suffering.
Many of us carry around years, and even generations, of unprocessed grief. When we experience great loss, we often don’t want to know or don’t know how to deal with it. Our feelings get shoved down, packed in, stored for later, while in the process we also disconnect from our ability to experience profound joy (more on this later).
The reasons we stuff down our grief are, from my perspective, mostly cultural. In modern societies there are rules about what is acceptable with regard to behavior and emotions, with grief and anger being two things no one wants to see or hear about. And life just keeps going, regardless of what you’ve lost, so there is a real or perceived expectation that within a set period of time (say, a week?), you’ll jump back on the fast-moving merry-go-round of life and obligations.
But great loss comes with great pain, and to “suck it up” and move forward without attending to your grief in a healthy way can lead to a wide range of physical and/or psychological dis-eases. One such side effect includes emotional numbing, which I referred to earlier. When we suppress our heavier negative emotions, we also lose the capacity to experience our lighter, more joyful emotions. Anxiety, worry, and depression become our norm.
A lot of us have experienced great loss over these past two years. Careers and livelihoods have been lost, and many lives have been lost as well. The death of a loved one can be one of the most painful things we experience, and many people within my community have lost parents, spouses, siblings, grandparents, children, and friends.
I want to normalize taking as much space as we need to grieve after a death or profound loss, to allow ourselves and one another to process emotions (especially the heavy ones) without defining how long it “should” take or what our personal healing “should” look like. I want to normalize feeling our feelings in the moment so we don’t need to hold on to them!
When we sit with someone in their darkest hour with full acceptance and honoring of their feelings, we are providing them a great service. Then what can be expressed in an hour doesn’t need to be carried around for years. Our capacity to be with someone in this state without shrinking away or silencing them because of our own discomfort is a reflection of how comfortable we are with our own feelings.
I often say our programs help you to become a better human. This is, in part, because we learn to be present with and for ourselves and others. From this place of presence, we are more curious about what wants or needs to happen, more willing to allow things to be as they are, and better able to effectively communicate.
The breath is our foundation and guide for healing and integrating what’s old, helping us to see more clearly, and bringing new inspire-ation into our life. I invite you to let your breath illuminate your life.
March 4, 2022