To grieve or not to grieve?
I wonder sometimes. Our culture in the west seems to hold this notion that closure is necessary, and we ought to soldier on past a loss after only a week or a month. While working with families after a death has occurred, I put out the notion of grief as natural and individual, much like our own fingerprints. Everyone of us, I believe, grieves differently. And a common thread seems to be: it takes time.
This past weekend I had sensations of my own personal grief upwelling; I acknowledged it and let it move through, remaining as porous as I could. I thoroughly felt my sadness – albeit painful – and thanked it at the same time for the honesty and truth it brings me. Likely no coincidence in how the next day, I went head long into working with a family to co-create a Celebration of Life for their father, brother, husband, and mostly — plain incredible and fun-loving-big-laughter-generous-hearted friend. I am always in awe of a family willing to share quiet reflection, tears, hilarious stories, and belly laughs with me while we step into the space of co-creating a custom celebration of their beloved’s life. The tears say grief is raw and present. The smiles and stories say grief moves through us, because somehow, the essence of those we love is imprinted within us indelibly.
I am deeply thankful for this work. As I’ve approached building this Celebration of Life from a well of gratitude today, I came across this poem and need to share it. I believe in grieving – in the transformative healing power it has when we open ourselves to it. And at the same time, I believe in what the Sufi poet Rumi shares with us here. I sense him asking us to pause. To listen to the world’s greater heart beat, in a way. When we do, we need not grieve. For it keeps softly thumping . . . and somehow the rhythm safely holds us. Always.
Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round
in another form. The child weaned from mother’s milk
now drinks wine and honey mixed.
God’s joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flowerbed.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
Til one day it cracks them open.
Part of the self leaves the body when we sleep
and changes shape. You might say, “Last night
I was a cypress tree, a small bed of tulips,
a field of grapevines.” Then the phantasm goes away.
You’re back in the room.
I don’t want to make anyone fearful.
Hear what’s behind what I say.
Ta dum dum, taa dum, ta ta dum.
There’s the light gold of wheat in the sun
and the gold of bread made from that wheat.
I have neither. I’m only talking about them,
As a town in the desert looks up
at stars on a clear night