I’ve learned a few things about grief on my journey so far. One, there is no statute of limitations on grief. It can show up for a surprise visit years after we think we’ve cried our last tears about whatever we lost. Waves of grief can sneak up on us during the holidays, an anniversary, a birthday, or just a Tuesday. We can’t always predict when they will come, but it is as futile to try and stop them as it would be to try and stop ocean waves from reaching the beach. And like ocean waves, we can be still and let the small ones roll past our ankles. But for the really big ones, it might be best to dive right in and go through them so they don’t knock us over.
Speaking of waves and grief, this month marks three years since I left Fort Lauderdale. I’ve made some wonderful friends and met some amazing people here in Houston, many of whom read my weekly stories. (I love you, Houstonians!) I know the move was the right choice and I’m grateful for so much that has happened here. Yet, I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t admit that I’m still grieving the loss of many things about my old life in Florida.
I miss beloved friends, magical burritos, year-round tropical temperatures, and the proximity to Mother Ocean. I used to get my “cardio on” while walking along her beaches at least three times per week, often cooling off in her waves when I finished. Many times while floating in the sea, my heart would fill with gratitude knowing: “I’m not on vacation. I live here!” Whenever I had a hard day, I could jump in my car and be at the beach within ten minutes. The sound of the surf and seagulls. The feel of the steady ocean breeze on my face. The smell of the salt air. The changing colors of the rolling waves and the sky as the sun sank behind me. All of it was like balm for my soul. I’m taking a deep breath just thinking about it.
The ten-year anniversary of my mother’s passing is also coming up in a few days. I’ve noticed some waves of sadness around that too. She told me that she was ready to go well before she actually did, so I was happy for her when she finally laid her body aside in April of 2011. The sadness comes when I think about not seeing her twinkling, mischievous eyes or hearing her laugh again, or the hilarious things that came out of her mouth. She had a sharp wit and could make a joke about anything. Once in a while, she would say something that was not meant to be funny, like this gem she spoke while I was waiting to pay the check at a restaurant: “Honey, I’m going outside to get some fresh air and have a cigarette.” When I remembered that comment earlier today I laughed out loud, and then I cried a little bit.
That’s another thing I’ve learned about grief. It’s actually an aspect of love. If we hadn’t loved deeply, we wouldn’t feel pain when that something or someone is gone. Somehow thinking of it that way comforts me. Whether it’s a person, a place, a pet, or a time in your life that you are missing, know that your grief is a sign of how much you allowed yourself to love and be loved. It’s a beautiful thing. If you can, allow yourself to feel it. Most of us live our lives trying to avoid anything uncomfortable. But when we shut off our feelings, we shut off the good ones too. It’s not comfortable to feel the sadness, but if we don’t block it, it can move through us. Today, the people walking by me in Hermann Park might have wondered why that man was laughing one second and crying the next. The crying only lasted a minute because I let the wave of emotion (energy in motion) move through me.
There’s one last thing that deserves mentioning. Happiness is indeed a choice and also an inside job, meaning it does not depend on outside circumstances. However, we often use this spiritual truth as a weapon to make ourselves feel worse when we aren’t effervescing with joy 24/7. It’s not only okay but necessary to acknowledge when you’re sad or experiencing grief. You have to feel it to heal it. We can try to think of something else or partake in our favorite distraction, but that will only work for so long. It’s like throwing a glittery blanket over a dusty old box of photos in the basement. We may not be able to see the box anymore, but it’s still there taking up space. Some days that’s the best we can do. If that’s the case, toss on that glittery blanket so you can get through the day.
At some point, you’ll know when it’s time to take that old dusty box out of the basement (your subconscious mind) and bring it outside into the light. Open it up and take a look at what’s inside. Allow yourself to cry so the sadness isn’t stuck inside you. Here’s the best news. You don’t have to do this alone. Share your grief with a friend, family member, God, guardian angel, therapist, grief counselor, or spiritual coach. They can sit right by your side as you unpack that box and let those emotions flow. You might also try a grief support group. There’s a 5-week online “Journey Through Grief” Workshop starting on Sunday, May 2 led by Rev. Mindy Lawrence Curtiss of Unity of Houston. For more information and to join CLICK HERE.
If you are feeling grief, large or small, please let someone know so you don’t have to carry it all by yourself. I would be honored to unpack that box with you if you’re ready. Family Constellations is an amazing unpacking tool. Please look around my website or reply to this email for more information about Life Coaching, a Private Constellation, or my next Online Group Session.
Until next time, may you find the courage to let the waves of grief roll in knowing that it’s a form of love, you’re not alone, and this too shall pass.
On this day is grief laid by, for sights and sounds that come from nearer than the world are clear to you…There is a silence into which the world can not intrude. There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost. There is a sense of holiness in you the thought of sin has never touched.
Lesson 164 from A Course in Miracles