Shortly after my father died on September 26,2017, I wrote a piece entitled “My father died and I am different now.” And I was. And I had no clue how exactly, just a whole being knowing that I was very different. Every now and then it surfaces in ways that I had not expected or could have possible imagine – for you can’t really know what to expect when things change at the core, because they are new. Which is why change is both wonderful and scary.
Ever since my father died, I have a very different relationship with death. I feel every death that comes into my awareness differently. I didn’t used to. I used to be a little sad, although I dont know if I really let myself feel sad. I thought “sad”. There’s a huge difference.
Now, every time I learn that someone has died, I FEEL it – and it is such a huge swept into the waves of grief that it often takes me by surprise………only because it’s not how I used to do things. It is how I do things now.
When my dad died, I was just swept away with each wave, floating, almost drowning. And that is different now too. While I can feel each wave and it’s huge pull, I can also feel myself firmly grounded. And what’s fascinating is that allows me to feel the grief in an even bigger way.
It’s almost like every death is my dads……….but its also absolutely not. Its that there is grief in every death and since experiencing that this past fall, I now feel that every grief is every grief.
And I think that’s, perhaps, how it’s supposed to happen.
You cant really know something until you have experienced it. You can think it. You can feel it….sort of………but once you have experienced something like grief….you KNOW it. And grief is such a huge emotion, one that most people go to great efforts to avoid feeling, which makes it that much bigger.
I learned today that a person I didn’t know all that well died early this morning. It wasn’t a surprise, as I had known about the coming of his passing for a short while. I didnt know him all that well. I only had a few connections with him, but those that I did have, had touched me deeply. I had connected to this person soul to soul. (I think sometimes those people that touch our souls yet are more distant from us in our personal close lives, can have a big impact on us…..one in which we can simple FEEL that emotional connection….or that soul…….without all the tangles of past, present, future….without the resentments, without the wishes, hopes, or whatever. Because it wasnt there. There was just this very simple SOUL to SOUL connection that is clearer without all the tangles.That type of connection is very powerful.) When we allow ourselves to do that we actually can FEEL a person, their presence, their light, and somehow, perhaps in a small way, maybe in a big….that changes us. When I found out about his passing, I just started crying. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I wasnt thinking “oh thats so sad”…..I wasn’t thinking about how much his family would miss him…….I wasn’t thinking of my father. I just started crying. And then went…..”what is this all about? This is weird.” And I kept crying. And you know what the thoughts were that did flow through my head? They were thoughts of how bright of a light that this person had. How many lives he had touched in a positive and lasting way. And how grateful I was to have known him, and how knowing him had changed me, even in a small way, and had brought me a bit of something that I didnt have before I had known him.
It was weird to me that I wasnt thinking sad things, even though I was crying.
In allowing myself to experience grief, I had also allowed myself to experience joy. In allowing myself to really feel and experience death….and stand in those waves…..I was also allowing myself to experience life.(Martin Prechtel wrote about this in his piece on Grief………..and I cried when I heard it years ago………but now….now I understand it in a way I couldn’t possibly before.)
Someone once told me that they felt that grief and mourning were different. Grief had a great deal of loss in it. Mourning….well, just as it sounds…..there is “morning” after “mourning.” I didnt really know what that meant at the time. I think I have a better sense of it now. I think mourning is when we do feel that celebration of life in the passing of someone, that presence that they had in the world and in our lives. I think grief is a little more focused on the loss and the absence. And I think we need to feel both. And the reason that I say we need to is because it’s pretty much how we do it.
We often look at death with whatever set of beliefs we hold regarding it. Most feel that they are moving on to another plane……whether that be Heaven or a waiting place to reincarnate and do it all again. Some feel that when we die we just die….we are just gone. End of story.
And you know what? I don’t think it matters what we think. I think we choose to believe and think what makes us feel better…….and maybe what made our parents and grandparents feel better, hence what we were taught. But I think what matters is that we honor the loss…..and honor the life…..and have reverence for what that passing soul brought into our lives and into the world.
EVERYONE”S grief is yours and is an opportunity to mourn…………
We are all connected. And I don’t mean that In just the woo woo esoteric view. We are all connected in a very literal and visceral way.
I recently heard a comedian say that “Maybe we are all the SAME PERSON….living out life in different bodies.” The audience laughed at this. And I suspect there were a few that, like myself, went “that makes perfect sense.” Ive always held the idea that we are all part of something bigger. I think most of us do. And we call it god or the universe or spirit…..and we make up stories and join together in groups that share the same beliefs in the same stories. And it makes us feel a connection by agreeing to believe in something we cannot possibly know. I think it might be far simpler than any story. I think it may be as simple as we are all cells that are part of one big being. Maybe the entire planet Earth is just one cell and each person is just a part of that cell. Very Horton Hears a Who-like. That is just my story that I have created to explain why we might feel each other in ways that sort of defy rational logic. And it makes sense to me.
And it makes sense to me, with my story, why we might feel others emotions. We call the people that do this empaths. We give them a special name that both connects and separates. And we made that up too – to make sense of something we don’t understand. In that school of thought, I would consider myself an empath….and intuitive that is able to feel others deeply, right down to what pain they might be feeling in their body at any given moment…………..but perhaps its just that I am a cell that is wiling to allow myself to acknowledge and accept that I am connected to all of these other cells……..that I AM all of these other cells? (I also think that the more HUMAN people are willing to allow themselves to BE…….that they sort of become like stem cells……..but that gets into a whole different ramble best reserved for another time.)
As wacky as all of that may sound, it makes more sense to me than some man made up name or term or phrase to try and explain something that we can’t possibly understand. But something we KNOW…………with every thing that we are….every fiber of our being.
And that Is why I feel that everyone’s grief is everyones grief. Just as everyone’s joy is everyone’s joy.
I think when we allow ourselves to really feel that……..we have compassion…….forgiveness…….and just a completely different way of experiencing life.
Everyone’s grief is yours.
Everyone’s joy is yours.
Everyone is you.