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What grief can look like

This morning I caught up with a friend who has had a recent death in her life. I had offered to have a chat with her, as I know it can be hard to find people who can hold space for a proper conversation about death and grief. And all the harder to have a conversation that involves light and joy and learnings, given that most people bring their own sense of shock, regret and sadness, and indeed their own grief, to the table.

I hope she found it helpful. I hadn’t anticipated how helpful and beautiful I would find it too though.

I’ve written in the past about there being so many different experiences and emotions in grief. It is not limited to 5…or any other arbitrary number. Our grief experiences can be like fingerprints, each a little, or a lot, different. And every single emotion is available to come up. No, not just the ‘bad’ ones.

If you can stay open there is the bad, the good, the terrible, the beautiful, and so very much opportunity to connect, to grow, to learn. Grief, like many of the things we see as toughest in life, is incredibly transformative.

But rarely do I get to see it playing out like this. When I start working with people we explore all this together. Something that they typically haven’t been able to do before me, hence coming to me. But to see it organically happening in someone, which is what I believe is what is totally natural and would be normal if we weren’t set on a wrong path around death and grief early on, is both rare and beautiful.

To get to witness the sadness, the beauty, the vibrancy, the change and growth, the curiosity in a person dealing with something that is just about universally considered nothing but traumatic, was incredible.

It isn’t that she’s not in pain. It’s not that this is easy for her. And it’s certainly not that this was an expected or distant death, so that she’s not really affected by it. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s that there’s so much more going on. And she is open to all of it.

This is what grief can be. This is what grief should be. Without all the stuff we’ve been fed about it since we were kids by a society who, none the wiser, were taught the same things in their childhood. If we knew to be open to all of it and to travel the journey with our eyes and hearts open, how different things would be.

I say so often that over all the years of my work I’ve come to believe so firmly that to heal completely from grief, so that all you have left for the person is LOVE, is the natural way. And that if we set out on the right path from the start, casting aside all the unhelpful and unhealthy ideas we’ve been given about death and grief, then we would organically travel to complete healing. And that this would be the norm.

I think today may well be the first time I got to see this theory begin to play out in real life.

Stay open. To all of it.



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