There is some bottom line experience to grief that boils down to this: we never feel truly safe again. In truth, “safety” was always an illusion really. But prior to the rattling of grief, we could pretend we were safe. We could love as if loss would never touch us. We could pretend that the ground beneath us was solid and unshakable.
After grief comes along though, the innocence of that kind of “safe” perspective seems to get lost. We come to full consciousness of how the pain of grief is equal to the amount of love we felt for the person who died. And it is painful. We come to a full consciousness of how quickly our life and the lives of our loved ones come to an end. We awaken to the vulnerability of being alive. And nothing feels safe.
In my own grief experience, I found that I initially wanted to become as hardened and emotionally risk-less as possible. I recalled how, during my pregnancy, my husband and I would both talk to the baby inside me. We played with him, felt him move, touched his hand as he reached thru my skin, and we read him stories each night. We invested in our love for him whole-heartedly. After he died, my first response was to think that I would never ever do that again. I would never invest in another pregnancy or child that way. I would never risk the emotional attachment again, so that if and when another child dies, I wouldn’t hurt so badly.
Can you see the absurdity of grief in that?!
Of course when I calmed down and came to my senses again, I realized how ridiculous it would be to withhold my love from any child. How could I NOT love and communicate with our other children? If I got pregnant again, why in the world would I NOT want to parent that child from the moment I knew of their existence? Why would I NOT want to love and invest in whatever amount of precious time we have together?
The larger reality of all this was the acceptance of the fact that death does happen; grief does hurt; nothing and no one is safe; AND I choose to live a full life anyway.
It is true that grief takes away a certain innocence or ignorance about being safe. But all we really have is this present moment anyway. Yes, you can touch on the past in your memories. Yes, you can touch on the future with your intellectual planning. But truly all that really exists is this very moment.
In this moment, I am safe as can be.
In this moment, I can choose to tell my husband I love him.
In this moment, I can choose to tell my son I love him, regardless of the fact that he's dead.
In this moment, I’m doing the business of my being.
That is all we have. If there is any sense of safety, it is in this moment. And grief taught me to stop fooling myself into trying to build a structure of safety or to insulate myself by living out of fear of loss. Grief taught me that I truly do want to love fully this moment. And if loss comes in the next moment, so be it. That will be the business of that moment.
But in this moment, I chose love and being fully alive.
And we all have that choice.
Reiki to all eyeballs seeing this,
[previously published version ran at Radical Creativity in November 2011]