J2P Monday: Facing the grief

English: Comfort in Grief

Grief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The project that began a couple of weeks ago with listening to some playlists and deciding to create my own keeps moving along for me as I follow threads and see where they take me — both musically and internally.  I like the playlist I created but it really reflects some threads I was following about a particular type of music I remembered from the 70’s, not musical favorites.

The list, which did contain a few “loves”– reminded me of my love of music which led me to realize I don’t listen to music as much as I did and, when I do, I never listen to those old favorites.  The change in type — to mostly the kind of stuff I would play for a yoga class — will be the subject of another post.

The noticing led me to switch from my original intent of listening to other people’s playlists — thus being introduced to new music — to choosing some of my own playlists of older music.  Some of these lists I created and never listened to them.  Or listened once when I first made it and then never again.  Listening every day has kept a lot of memories swirling from those years from 1970 to 1977 or so.

Last night I put on a list titled just “Oldies” to listen for a while as I read in bed.  This list was full of favorite artists and music I loved but I don’t think I ever listened after compiling it.  The list took me back to images again of friends at Northwestern, Amazingrace coffeehouse, antiwar protests, etc.  A time I’ve always treasured.  The first time I felt a sense of belonging.  Giddy, heady times when we shared a conviction that we could change the world.  Excitement, emotion, drama; I ate it all up.

Suddenly I began weeping.  And I couldn’t stop.  At first I thought it was just one of those nostalgic cries — you know, when you just feel sad about what used to be that is no more… But I couldn’t stop.  And finally I realized that I hadn’t want to leave or for those days to be over.  But I come from a family of stalwarts and stoics, so, in our way, I sucked it up and moved on.  But I didn’t grieve.

Finally the grieving.  And as I grieved for that long ago time I thought about the girl I was and her dreams.  And I realized that on this journey I’ve become somebody far removed from her.  If she’d been told about the life she’d wind up leading and how it would go compared to her dreams, I think she’d have contemplated suicide.  And I grieved for that me who is no more.  And then grieved for those who’ve died for whom I didn’t grieve.  I cried and cried.  And then I felt as if a big weight had been lifted from my chest and shoulders.

I know I’m about to step into a new phase.  Don’t know what it will be, not sure exactly who I am other than who I’m not any more, given the many aspects I’ve released.  And I grieved for the person who used to know.  But felt hope and a willingness to let the unfolding occur without knowing.  And when I finished I felt God’s presence and hand for the first time in all of it.  In spite of all the faith with which I’ve kept going, on some levels I’ve never really believed or felt that presence before.

I’m not sure that the grieving is complete.  But I grieved as much as I could last night.  Sometimes another layer needs a little time before rising to the surface.  But for now, I feel so much better.

And I thought about grieving and how we’ve become a country that by and large avoids it.  That suck-it-up-and-carry-on attitude is, I think, an American norm (other countries chime in about being the same or different).  And in recent years it’s developed a new twist: don’t just suck it up or numb it yourself, medicate it away.

Some years ago I worked in a doctor’s office for a while.  Though answering phones wasn’t part of the job, I wound up trained in some basics for answering the phones during busy times.  One day I answered to a new widower who felt really sad because his wife just died and he wanted a prescription for something to make it stop.

A while later in the kitchen, I encountered the Indian doctor from the group and mentioned how odd I felt about that call.  She shook her head in disgust and commented how everyone wants to take a pill these days to keep from feeling anything.  “In India,” she asserted, “we think when someone you love dies you’re SUPPOSED to feel sad.”  Well said.

All of this has me wondering how many people are carrying around the great weight of grieving not done?

Note:  I couldn’t decide whether this fits as a J2PMonday post or not.  But I finally decided that the weight of tears not shed is just as profound an interference with inner peace as any other …

8 thoughts on “J2P Monday: Facing the grief

  1. I am with you Leigh on the healing journey. My life has very little in common with my youthful dreams. I agree that our culture does not want to feel anything. I cry all the time and I usually let it flow. It differs in intensity, but it is oh so healing. I am loving your progress and am supporting you all the way.

    big hugs,

    • I cry pretty easily in recent years. I’d just never tapped into those memories and the realization of all this sadness I didn’t express long ago… Thanks so much for the support, my friend. We’re gonna come out the other side of this!

  2. That is the one thing that we never allow ourselves Leigh. The ability to ‘feel’ us. We avoid it like the plague, but in truth, as you have now found out, that grieving ‘is’ facing our fears, seeing our grief, and feeling its journey by allowing ourselves to understand it in its passing.
    And by doing so it allows us to let go and move forward. Begin a new path.
    And the biggest thing I found in letting it go…is ‘everything’ changes. And I mean everything. We see from a completely new perspective…things that had meaning, no longer do. Our interests change in what does have meaning, what makes us happy….even letting go of what used to make us sad. It brings in much understanding of ourselves.
    Shoot, I even had to learn to walk again, simply because those things that we hold onto (like your jaw and head), now let go. In whatever emotional state we are in, it affects how we ‘hold’ ourselves. And in letting go, much unwinds, relaxes and we find ourselves needing to retrain to who we now are.
    I even found much confusion because what I had held as my beliefs of who I was, was now blown out the door in that huge release. But now I realised I could be whatever I wanted, no longer held back by the ‘should be, have to be’ things in this life.
    My friend, you are now on the cusp of ‘you’ and what your heart really wants out of life.
    Just stand in the truth of that lovely heart within and become what that love means truthfully to you. By doing this you are loving you, by releasing that grief you are coming back to you. It is in that that you will find the peace and happiness that we all seek.
    You will not know yourself with the release of all that head work as you choose to be free. Namaste

    • I haven’t quite had the experience of having to learn to walk again, but over the years of constantly changing and reorganizing my muscles, I’ve experienced many periods when I had to relearn my balance in yoga. So many postures besides the ones considered “balance” require having your muscles all working in balance and harmony to hold the pose properly and every time a big adjustment occurs in the muscles, my practice becomes new all over again…

  3. Oh Leigh, I know this grieving so well – the grief of my younger selves that my life turned out the way it did, the grief of lost hopes and dreams, and right now coming up the grief of being human. We are being clearly shown that we are in SMA for healing old patterns and have found two quite remarkable healers, one on the physical level, one on the emotional/psychic level. As usual your post resonates with me.
    Blessings, Alison

  4. Pingback: The time between | Not Just Sassy on the Inside

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