April showers bring May flowers! In recent weeks Berlin has become more alive with sunshine, flowers, green trees, green grass, and the lakes are beginning to warm. Social restrictions are slowly being relaxed – whether this is wise time will tell. I continue to be cautious in my social interactions and follow hygiene regulations whilst out and about.
It has been nearly two months since my dad passed away and the intensity of the feelings have subsided. Sometimes it does not quite feel real. Because I’ve remained in Berlin and have been unable to travel back I’ve not yet had to walk the empty hallways of where he once lived and I do not have continual reminders that he is gone, although I still struggle to look at pictures.
A friend of mine lent me the beautiful book The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller. It really helped to give me perspective on how as a society we tend to bury our grief and are not really in tune with it, it’s seen as something that will go away. Grief never truly disappears. It can either swallow us whole or move us forward, but it stays with us always.
Grief can devour us when we are forced to contain all of our sorrow on our own. When we become our own grief container we do not have the space or capacity to dig deep and feel, express, and be with our sorrow. Also understanding that grief is different for everyone and not all of us experience it in the same ways is really important. Grief can swallow us when we are shamed or blamed for it.
When grief is held in a community we no longer have to be our own containers. Our community allows us to share and express our grief in its many forms such as grieving rituals. This expression and sense of acceptance allows us to move forward. Moving forward does not mean we no longer experience our loss, it just means we have found a way to make peace with it and carry it safely as a part of us.
For those of us who are Queer our grief may stem from many other things like the loss of our identity, family expulsion, from feeling unsafe, or even feeling unable to openly be ourselves. For others it may stem from loss due to violence, mental or physical health struggles, lost loved ones, lost pets, lost or changed relationships, or maybe even grief at the destruction of our environment. Feelings of grief are valid from all sources and community, love, compassion, and empathy are great tools for healing all types of losses.
Part of my personal journey with grief has been to take risk of being vulnerable with people and share my loss. When people have asked “how are you” I speak my truth, which was consistently met with compassion and empathy in ways I had not experienced before. Then others started to share their losses with me, creating a sense of community and connection that may not have happened otherwise. At the end of the day we are all human and all have experienced loss, some now more than ever.
Tools for Grief
Take some time and some paper and write, get it out of your head. The way you write can be whatever feels good for you. For me short bullet points start out well and then usually turn into long rambling sentences. I also like to use a lot of colour with pens and markers! Different emotions get different colours. Some may find that writing long, well-crafted prose, poetry, or songs brings comfort. Others may prefer more direct or abstract forms of self-expression. Ultimately the aim is to place your thoughts, emotions and feelings onto paper. This frees up space in our brains to process because we are no longer working to just remember, the paper has done that for us. Using mindful gratitude while journaling may be helpful to focus on the most positive aspects of a loss you are now grieving.
Create your own grief ritual. A grief ritual is any gesture done with emotion and intention by an individual or a group aiming to connect with energies for the purpose of healing and transformation. Grief rituals are those done to create a space for us to release our grief energies into the world and our community. All too often in our individualistic societies we must become our own vessel for grief. When we alone hold our grief we do not have the capacity to really face it and be present with it. Grief rituals give us space and community to create a larger, stronger vessel and allow us to face and be present with our grief. Great healing can come from this.
Always remember Spinelly Cares and that I am here for any support you may need.
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