"When we compress the terrain of grief we also compress the terrain of joy." Francis Weller
I want to talk about grief.. I want to understand. I want to trust it's powerful force. I feel it intensely, often. It has been part of my life since childhood through the absence of a father's love, that visceral and terrible yearning to run into his arms and be scooped up. And recently through the loss of my home and the shedding of more of my belongings. In these recent years of walking towards it's aliveness in my body I sense subtle beginnings of understanding of it's fierce grip.
Wild horses try to pull me away from speaking openly about it though. It's difficult to share these words with you because our culture has no room for it, wants it to go away and 'be healed' and 'pass with time'. With thoughts like 'other people have suffered far worse things than me'. It's especially difficult to meet understanding in our culture when the grief is borne
from an ending or absence and not a dying. Oh how I wish it was so that the grief would go away, but my body tells a different story.
I am sitting on a bench where me and my husband used to sit and our doggies used to spend time. Our 23 years together ended 3 years ago. We spread the ashes of our dog Badger here and as I sit I realise it's akin to visiting a grave. The loss of what was my 'family'. I connect to the felt memory of Badger (my oldest dog who has passed on) to join me if she would like to. I see her sniffling the ground nearby, her presence and companionship fill me with warmth and light.
My other dog Tayto visits with me too. He is walking along, he does that little skip with his back leg that he always used to do. With Tayto's visit comes a sense of fun and adventure (I found a new home for Tayto). Their visit comforts me and brings many tears.
In interspecies communication I experience the possibility to connect with the essence of beings whether present or passed on or somewhere else, it has long arms to reach out. I sit and allow the force of the grief and loss to arrive if it needs to, it does. It grips my body tightly and clasps my throat. How I wish this feeling would go away, I'm fed up with it, exhausted, and shouldn't it be gone by now? Just move on, just let it go. These thoughts might quiet the sensations for a while, but I find that this 'grip' awaits my attention and capacity for love. I have no idea how long it will last nor have I any sense of purpose other than 'being here'. I have spent most of my life disassociated from myself and the flowers and the bees, I want to come home. In past times I would numb the feelings with chocolate and TV, I thank god it wasn't alcohol. Now, I am present with the pain without expectation, just a welcoming and allowing and a trusting in it's visit. A restorative present moment practice. I call it restorative, because often this seems to allow some kind of spaciousness for the vastness and the beauty and wonder in the present moment to enter my experience. Present grief and present beauty. I experience grief as something to move through, when needed.
I am watching the most magnificent sunset (that's why I parked up for a wee walk), and the wind is blowing through the trees behind me, these are the four things that call me home and support me to trust living in the present, the grief, the sun the wind the trees. Is the grief once again visiting me to show me something? I will never know and will never have any answers about this for me or for you, only a willingness to be shown the tender beginnings of some kind of path on which it becomes possible to hold the fullness of all experience without judgment. The sky seems closer to me now and more magnificent, the sunlight and clouds more precious and the copse of trees behind me, ground me and fill my body with their 'holding' presence. I end my visit, walking away filled with tears and grace and a glimmer of hope that if I can hold grief for myself in this way, perhaps I may continue to grow capacity to create a container where others can hold theirs. A life's practice that no formal education or training could ever give me.
Francis Weller eases my soul when I read his work about grief, 'The Wild Edge Of Sorrow'. I had been holding old teachings about it being a 'process' and having 'stages' and a place to 'go from' and 'get to'. On reading his work the life drained out of that teaching to one of 'portals' and 'moving through' whenever necessary during a life time and a life span. A shift towards the bodily felt truth that unwitnessed, unheld grief suppresses all life including joy. Grief and Joy are intertwined. We are living in a flat line culture which denies grief and relies on stimulants (sugar, alcohol, drugs, work) to give us some sense of being alive. You can view his work and meet him here. Much gratitude to your dear heart Francis 🧡
I finish with this video with the cows waggy tails as they roam together freely grazing over the common which brought me so much joy and connection to life on the walk back to my car.