Saturday, November 3, 2018
It's Okay to Feel Sad
I want to walk my grief to the dumpster and be rid of it. I don’t want to smell it anymore. I don’t want to see it anymore. I want my grief to go away.
At best I’ll recycle it? Green bin for lost loved ones. Blue bin for what should have been. Purple bin for lost health in its many forms. Nowhere for this other stuff to go. Just make it go away.
Grief is on my mind lately after a grief ritual here at DR over the weekend. Part of my opening and closing contribution was stating it is okay to feel sad. Obvious enough, but I needed to hear myself say it out loud again. I needed to feel that vibration in my throat coming out of my face. It is okay to feel sad.
I’ve been telling myself this for months. The last day of my job was April 6th, 2018. The last day of my marriage was May 4th, 2017. The last day before my stroke was July 3rd, 2016. My last day living in Kansas City was early July 2018. Last days. Final wishes. Parting wisdom?
There was a flash flood of hurt, shame, relief, anguish, pain, and God knows what else moments after I told my wife I did not want to be married anymore. The sadness has drizzled ever since more or less.
I cried every day for a few months after leaving my job. It was time. The sadness felt real and deep and alive. It was time for it to move through. It’s not the sadness that really hurts me I think. The denial and avoiding and transmuting of the sadness is what hurts me.
Part of the grief ritual for me was to keep the sadness flowing. I keep referring to my sadness. The grief ritual reminded me that we have sadness and grief. I have spoken of my grief with many, many friends and family members over many months. There has been some relief and moving through and mutual sharing in these encounters. None were a collective grieving like I experienced in the grief ritual.
The general setting for the grief ritual included a few basic elements. They worked well together in my experience. A short introduction to the process was given along with a description of Five Gates of Grief from Francis Weller. We shared briefly around the circle about anything related to the grief ritual we wanted to share. A song was taught with only four lines that were repeated for the duration of the ritual. Drummers accompanied the singing. The room was divided about in half. One side had cushions on the floor and an altar where individuals could go and express their grief however they were moved to. A supporter followed behind each individual who approached this altar to “hold space.” Another altar was available for participants to place supportive symbols for the ritual. There were some pictures and other objects. After a couple hours, there seemed to be a natural stopping place. The singing and drumming ceased. There was quiet. Another brief sharing round was completed. For me, the grief ritual was authentic and meaningful.
The night of the ritual I had a dream that I was having a conversation with my ex-wife. We were simply catching up on how our families were doing. It was a casual chat with little emotional charge for me. This is a new and welcome development for me.
I have been shown another way to approach grief through this ritual. We can grieve as a community; we all have grief. The group taught me a couple things. I don’t have to throw my grief away. I don’t have to recycle it over and over. Maybe this way of dealing with grief is more like the composting we do around here at DR. We simply move the grief to its next proper and useful place in the stream of life where it is transfigured into whatever it’s next simple and proper place is for us.