Six years ago, my best friend was hit by a car. It was late at night, he was crossing the street and didn't see the oncoming lights. He died instantly. I was in Mexico with my 1 and 3 year old. I got the news at 9:30 AM the next morning when I checked my voicemail. A neighbor had heard the crash and found him on the road. My phone number was on his tag. My best friend at the time was my dog Gaston.
The next hours were filled with agony, rage at myself and deep grief. I changed our plane tickets and we came home 3 days early. In those first few hours of shock and disbelief, a dear friend and spiritual teacher of mine advised me to put a lot of space around my grief. She encouraged me to allow myself to fully feel it. When I got home, I spent the next four days sitting in and being with grief. I visited Gaston's favorite spots. I sat in long meditation. I sang ceremonial songs and put food out for his spirit. I tapped into a wellspring of sadness I thought would never end.
And somehow, it did. By being with grief, I was able, eventually, to move through it. And my grief turned into a celebration of the life of the dear One that was now gone.
Grief expressed out loud, spontaneous and honest, for someone we have lost, or a country or an identity that is no longer, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.
If we don't grieve, we don't actually acknowledge the life that we once knew.
Right now so many of us are experiencing loss on a massive scale. It's hard to identify exactly what we're missing. It's a loss of the way we've lived, the clear boundaries between school and work and home and relationship, a loss of retreats and weddings and birthday parties planned, and a loss of trust and safety in our communities, in our medical technology, and our leadership. It may feel like a kind of ambiguous loss, the loss of normalcy, the fear of what life will look like as we emerge and the loss of connection. There are also loved ones and many countless others who've passed, those we didn't get to say goodbye to, whose last moments were on a ventilator, whose last touch was with masked and garbed people. Collective grief is in the air.
What do you do with your grief? How do you sit with her to receive her teachings? What have you grieved and what still is asking to be held in grief and praise? Please share in the comments below. The world is waiting.
We're in this together - as we always have been and always will be.
With love, Dr Kelly