Over the last week or so, I have been thinking a lot about about a very powerful post written by Brian Alger entitled: Grief and Bereavement: A Conversation with Grief on his site: http://exploring-life.ca/.
I have no doubt that anyone who reads Grief and Bereavement: A Conversation with Grief http://exploring-life.ca/5911/grief-bereavement-a-conversation-with-grief/ will find themselves looking at grief from new angles and places and engaging with it in a way which, though unique to themselves and their own circumstances, will also show how intrinsic grief is to the human condition and not some sort of personal journey on a desert island.
Brian Alger wrote this post as the third anniversary of his mother’s death approaches and one of his central messages is as follows:
Grief, and the rhythm of emotions it coordinates, does not intend to inflict harm, it is simply looking for authentic expression.
These words struck quite a chord with me as I think it becomes all too easy to blame grief and try and do battle with it rather than embrace it and see it as a natural process.
When you think about it, grief doesn’t get a great press and has all sorts of negativity associated with it. You know the thing: Oh don’t mind her, she’s going through the anger phase when someone raises issues around the death of a loved one with blatant insensitivity in the hours, days, months, years ….. following a loss. From my experience anyway, loss has been associated with some moments of heightened awareness when I suspect others thought I was too upset to be aware of anything! Brian Alger’s writing brought back many of these moments, both positive and negative, from losses over my lifetime.
… the nature of my grief has changed over time, and our capacity to move into conversation with it is an essential core competency in living.
These words from Brian Alger also resonate strongly with me. We just can’t assume that people are immune from loss until they are well into adulthood. I can remember an inexplicable sense of ‘shame’ when my Grandmother died very suddenly when I was nine. It wasn’t that I felt I had killed her; it was something different and I still don’t know even how to describe it.
Then when I was 23, the love of my life died from cancer in the space of eight short weeks. I cared for him at home right to the end; I have no idea how ~ pure instinct, I suspect, but I found it incredibly difficult ‘to move into conversation with [grief].’ It certainly wasn’t one of my core competencies and I ended up in all the ‘backwaters’ and ‘islands’ and lots more places of that nature, that Brian Alger describes.
Brian Alger and I share the experience of having had our parents in our lives until we were into our 50s. He writes from Canada but, to me, he is a person with whom I know I have lots in common. I love the way he talks about how when we begin holding intimate conversations with grief, we begin to sense the emergence of a new threshold in life.
Losing my parents within sixteen months of each other was certainly not easy, but I feel that I have finally learned to hold intimate conversations with grief. This experience is somehow a lot easier when one knows that others are in the same boat, even if they are in another ocean, river or lake.