Grief: When the Heart Cracks Open
The grief in our world seems to have reached gargantuan proportions. It seems we are being stretched to accommodate enormous pain on one hand, but on another we can embrace our compassion and channel it to fuel a strength that informs effective action. We can use it to define what is the part that each of us must play in bringing about change to shift the insanity, lack of integrity and violence that has erupted so mightily in our world. Facing and processing our grief is the first step.
Violence, dishonesty, greed and lack of integrity are dis-empowered positions. Processing reactions of grief and outrage allow a return to a centered position where effective action can emerge.
Grief has many faces and phases. When we are present to our grief and process it in healthy ways it can lead to informed action that can bring about needed change. If we are blinded by our grief we may not take inspired action but flail around in ill thought out and ineffective action.
Grief has many faces
There are places in the world where violence, conflict and inhuman acts are daily fare. Until recently it was a fairly rare occurrence for most (not all) who live in the west. When loss, tragedy, or natural disasters hit closer to home we become more sharply aware of the underbelly of humanity and experience the many facets of grief… shock, revulsion, denial, overwhelm, avoidance, rationalization, rage, anger, sadness, hurt or a collapse into despair and helplessness.We may feel one, all or a combination of these feelings depending on our inner make-up and the phase of the process we are in. During times of trouble there is also much compassion, heroism and a heartfelt desire to help and alleviate suffering…a generosity of spirit that emerges.
The enormity of some events can lead to a kind of reactivity where we become lost and stuck with feelings that seem to have nowhere to go. It is easy to miss or not identify the opening to our authentic nature that is present and offered at this time. Moving into this space even if we are unsure of the benefit can help move us out of the helplessness, despair dis-empowerment. Why bother with what can seem like a lofty idea in times of duress? The answer is because it offers a more lasting inner strength and resiliency for not only this moment but for all the difficult life moments that may visit us at some point in the future. Without this kind of connection even helping and giving can result in burnout and a lingering inner numbness or emptiness once the event has past.
With tragedy or disasters our attention necessarily is on what needs to be done NOW. And that is a good thing as it helps mitigate some of the energy that would get stuck in our systems if we did not have an outlet for action. But that now moment passes or perhaps we are removed enough that no action is possible or necessary. In that case we can get stuck with a lot of energy/emotion that has been activated but has nowhere to go….not a healthy situation for us. Many think that time takes care of situations like this but it is not how we are wired. We need to move energy/emotion that has been activated.
Our reactions to grief tell us a lot about how we have learned to protect ourselves and survive. Our responses to situations that trigger grief tend to be founded on our learned defenses, level of emotional intelligence and spiritual development. Consciousness regarding ourselves in these areas provides opportunities for growth into a more free and balanced way of living in the world.
Learning to be more effective with managing our energy/emotions is no small thing when we consider how things really change for us as individuals and for the world at large…through growth in consciousness by individuals making up groups that then become a groundswell of new worldviews and perspectives.
Grief : The Face or the Underbelly?
Grief has many faces. It is tempting to jump on the bandwagon of the intellect as a way of avoiding painful emotions. Looking for meaning too early can become a form of spiritual bypass that does not contribute to living more honestly from the heart. Looking to ideals, unidentified habitual defenses or a desire to return to a previous time can not only leave us empty but also ill prepared to deal with what we need that would serve us well in the present and future.
Asking questions such as,” What comes up for me in the face of loss? How do I relate to those feelings?” can help us connect more deeply and lovingly with ourselves, process grief appropriately and move on.
Asking “How do I relate to grief and what may lie beneath it?” is a challenging question that may require sitting in a well of silence learning to be present without resistance to discomfort long enough to become informed from the inside out.
The question “What is needed to process this grief and other emotions that may be triggered by it?” connects us more profoundly with ourselves and leads to greater meaning than any to be had through the commonplace platitudes so often offered.
Being human is hard sometimes! Reaching for our spiritual nature and blending it with our humanness is a growing edge that brings out the best in us so we may bring it to the world.
Facing deeper spaces within can feel awkward at first but ultimately it helps to bring us more in touch with our authentic nature. Within that space resides a depth and breadth of love, compassion and kindness for us that then can ripple out to others.