Grief has come to visit today. I love and hate her, this dark girl who follows me around until I let her in to set me free.
It is quite handy, then, that I have Anne Lamott's book with me, Small Victories. I'm reading her chapter called 'Ladders.' She has written my heart once again, as this is what she does.
"The depth of feeling continued to surprise and threaten me, but each time it hit again and I bore it, like a nicotine craving, I would discover that it hadn't washed me away.
Don't get me wrong: grief sucks, it really does. Unfortunately, though, avoiding it robs us of life, of the now, of a sense of living spirit.
Mostly I have tried to avoid it by staying very busy,working too hard, achieving as much as possible. You can often avoid the pain by trying to fix other people; shopping helps in a pinch, as does romantic obsession. Martyrdom can't be beat. While too much exercise works for many people, it doesn't for me, although I have found that a stack of magazines can be numbing and even mood-altering.
The bad news is that whatever you use to keep the pain at bay robs you of the flecks and nuggets of gold that feeling grief will give you.
A fixation can keep you nicely defined and give you the illusion that your life has not fallen apart. But since your life may indeed have fallen apart, the illusion won't hold up forever, and if you are lucky and brave, you will want to bear disillusion.
You begin to cry and writhe and yell and then to keep on crying; and finally, grief ends up giving you the two best gifts: softness and illumination.
I'm pretty sure that only experiencing that ocean of sadness in a naked and immediate way do we come to be healed - which is to say, we come to experience life with a real sense of presence and spaciousness and peace.
Only grieving can heal grief."
* * *
Softness and illumination, I'm waiting for you.
Grief, heal my grief.
* * *
Like a stream that may freeze,
in the spring it comes back with the leaves,
begins to flow and bring life.
A stream will not remain still for too long before it must go on.
~ Lyndsay Taylor, When Faith Runs Deep