“Grief is essential to finding and maintaining a feeling of emotional intimacy with life, with one another and with our own soul.”
– Francis Weller
There are many people whom I regard as expert in the area of grief – the feeling, processing and holding of it in emotionally safe ways – for themselves and then for others. For each of them, the deep dives into their own experiences, whether from painful losses of loved ones or a commitment to a path of loving support to others who are grieving, make them all highly qualified to speak, write or be with others who are embarking upon their own process.
Last summer, a friend suggested a book to me. She felt it might be useful as I was entering a period of mourning and rest, following the sale of my home. The long period that it took from market to sale was filled with many challenges. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. When I started reading the book, I realized that she was right. I really wasn’t aware of the depth and wholeness (holiness) of the grief that was still buried beneath the surface of my awareness.
What I didn’t know about my grief was that it is multifaceted, very deep and embedded in my psyche.
Francis Weller’s book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, introduced me to aspects of grief that I had no awareness of and yet as I read about them, feelings surfaced that were surprising and healing. He suggests that each of us must undertake an apprenticeship with sorrow. Reading that so early in the book, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the very idea that I might be embarking upon my own “deep dive” into grief. Courage is what is needed to take this very important, healing and life affirming journey.
The reading of the book is a journey into oneself. Weller offers that there are Five Gates of Grief and I have listed them here for you to read to see just how much resonance you experience.
The First Gate: Everything We Love, We Will Lose.
The Second Gate: The Places That Have Not Known Love.
The Third Gate: The Sorrows of the World.
The Fourth Gate: What We Expected and Did Not Receive.
The Fifth Gate: Ancestral Grief.
Perhaps you are more familiar with grief already and may know these areas in which grief resides. I found these to be eye and heart opening. All at once, I had a container for many feelings that were still buried, unknown to me at this point in my life and as I came to unearth them, I realized an even greater peace within, tolerance without and acceptance of what is. Journaling through each gate allowed me the opportunity to name people, experiences, and events which heretofore were “hanging out there” in memory and had not been truly seen, heard or felt for what they were. I owned them, held them and put them safely away.
Our triggers have an origin. We react, and upon reflection are puzzled by our reactions. I found that mine were grounded in unknown, unexperienced grief for events that I had no idea how to hold. So…they still had a hold on me.
The connections we make to our grief can be revealing, healing and amazing. This is living.
If you choose to purchase and read this wonderful book, you may find that you essentially take back your life, in ways that you didn’t even know were missing. You will find your heart of hearts…your very soul. You will find peace. There will be tears, memories and many “a-ha moments”.
The Healing Time
Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all of the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin and bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them,
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
Poem from: “Claiming the Spirit Within,” by Pesha Gertler (Boston: Beacon Press)
And always remember,
“…walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone.”