in Grief, Notes of Encouragement
I am writing you this note of encouragement as the sound of your heartbreak is escaping from the hidden place in which you have tried to bury it. Whether your heartbreak has been masked with anger, distracted by addiction, or exploited by feelings of victimization and abject sorrow, you must go through your grief in order to get through it. You must honor your grief by giving it a beginning and allowing it to end on its own terms, in its own time.
After I filed for divorce, my best friend’s sofa served as my daily refuge. When her husband would leave for work in the morning, I would find my way down the street to her home to sit and spin in my grief for hours. I would regurgitate the story over and over again of how The Former had hurt me. We would curse him and list all the ways that I thought he had failed me and bask in the “woe is Elizabeth” story of my victimization, which would eventually give way to my laying bare my shame of having put myself in the position of being hurt by him in the first place. I cried and cried because I missed him and had loved him, and because I was terrified that, without him, I was destined for a life alone. It was ugly.
But then, after months of unending sadness, I arrived one morning, apparently brighter, as my best friend’s daughter, my godchild, put her little hands on my face and exclaimed, “Lolly’s not sad today!” Her little voice, telling me how in all of those months she had borne witness to my pain, had a profound impact on me. “No, baby,” I said, “Lolly is not sad today.” I had been certain that all of this pain was just my new state of being. It never occurred to me that this process of abject grieving would eventually come to an end.
I began the Practice of Grief when that precious child made me aware that the importance of honoring your grief is in realizing that the grief itself is the means to the end of profound pain.
There is a time for mourning and then there is a time that it will end. But that end only comes from a willingness to allow the grief to run its course uninterrupted and an ability to realize that, when that grief ends, it is time to move forward.
You will begin the Practice of Grief when you allow the emptiness itself to fill the depth of your sadness and acknowledge what you have lost, whatever it is: a person, a relationship, a job, an opportunity, a business, your money, your dream… Name it and honor what it meant to you, and then accept in the moving forward how its presence in your life – and its loss – will shape what is to come.
You are loved,