It’s hard to talk about grief. But you know what’s harder? Keeping it all inside. I should know. I tried that for years after my mother passed in 1986. It wasn’t that I didn’t try to talk about it. It just seemed like no one wanted to listen.
At the tender age of 21, I waited for the cue of my father or older sisters, but that never came. It’s baffling to me today but we just didn’t talk about her. I attempted to reach out to a couple of friends, only to feel shut down. Not many 21 year olds know how to handle a friend in grief.
I learned quickly that grief was like a repellant, and I didn’t want to be any more alone than I already felt after this huge loss. So I pushed it down, pasted a smile on my face and presented a bubbly personality everywhere I went. I’ve learned that a personality is not so much who we really are, rather who we learn to be, to gain acceptance.
When we avoid grief, it doesn’t go away. Grief expert David Kessler says that grief needs to be shared in order to heal. It’s going to keep coming up until you finally acknowledge it.
I tried to stay busy and avoid being alone, but it can be exhausting to have to constantly distract yourself from your feelings. All through this period, I can now see that I was existing in a half-numb state. After a few years had passed, I told myself that I must be over it by now. Society expected me to be over it. But my grief was not gone. It was waiting patiently for me to stop and pay attention to it.
I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to meditation as a teenager, so when I could suppress my grief no more, I had a lifeline. I have often said that I would most certainly be on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications if I hadn’t learned the basics of meditation in my young life. There’s no shame in that, but it only masks the feelings temporarily. Healing comes from walking through the pain, not around it.
When I finally slowed down enough to listen, I found my grief to be quite a gentle and sweet part of me, and not the monster I had been running from. It didn’t want to destroy me. It just needed some loving attention – permission to be there; to shed the tears.
It also invited me to look deeper at my life, and to seek more than just distractions from my own inevitable death. Grief, as I now see it, is a valuable experience that can lead us to opening our hearts to live life more courageously, if we allow it to. As sad as it was to lose my mother so young, today I am thankful for the beautiful and meaningful life that my grief journey has led me to.
Safe, Loved and Free is available for purchase locally at Buy-Low Foods and Old Town Gift Shoppe, or online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters. The book was self-published through Balboa Press, a division of Hay House Publishing. Those interested can find more information on Rebizant’s website at iamsita.com.