Autumn has finally descended here weather wise. It is with great reluctance that I let go of the growing season. I was born in South Florida so for the first years of my life I knew only different shades of summer. There was hot summer, cold summer, and almost summer. Still the seasons paint us and shape us so I don't know what I would have become had I remained in the land of summer. The dark half of the year has come to cast its shadow upon us and with it some of the more somber feelings take precedence as we lose the light and the leaves.
It has been a year of loss. So far I have lost two very good friends, and I have a family member in hospice. The sand is running a bit thin. The card that keeps coming up for me when I care to look is the three of swords. In one deck it depicts a heart pierced by three swords. I've had quite a change in my work life this year as well, so much so that I haven't really stopped to acknowledge fully my losses. That is until recently. About two weeks ago I was coming out of a period of high anxiety and restlessness. I was feeling ill as well. I had up until that point been very productive starting back in my studio and experimenting. Then it all came to a halt. Anxiety had kept me from sleeping and I was exhausted. I could barely honor my obligations and keep appointments let alone create. Something had to shift.
Each week I participate in something called Ganesha Group. It originally was created to help participants remove the barriers to healing, and now has evolved to bring in the elements of healing. We were working with the 4th key of healing "I allow help, support, and healing." During the work, I had a profound experience. Tears kept coming. I was grieving, and it felt so peaceful and right. I had been so stressed out and frantic and this was the opposite. I refer to the deep vulnerable space I touched as Sacred Grief.
For so many years I had avoided diving into the space of loss because I had often been tormented by long stretches of depression. I had worked so hard to see the good in life I was afraid of falling back into the pit of despair. (Extra points to people who caught the Princess Bride reference). I had resisted sadness and grief and treated it as emotional baggage. Part of me thought that I could just wait until that third sword had struck and then I could efficiently do my grieving all at once. You know it all sounded so logical in my head. We have pathologized grief in our society. In fact last I checked the DSM-V had a grief disorder, a subset of depression, because apparently it is considered abnormal to grieve for more than two weeks. Heaven forbid that we actually have to experience strong emotions for that long. How inconvenient for us and our community.
The problem is if we don't fully experience our feelings they linger in the body and in the back of our minds clouding our experiences. What I touched in that moment of relief in the grief was pure grace. It was at once completely human while being simultaneously divine. As the seasons give us their individual colors so too do our emotions. We tend to demonize a lot of our feelings particularly those with a darker shade. Feeling blue? Well then just ask your doctor about this pill. Now I am not condemning medicating for actual depression, but we seem to have gone to the extreme and put all sadness into a clinical diagnosis. Sometimes you are going to be sad, because life has sadness in it. People you love die, or your lover leaves you, or you lose your job, or you get sick. These are a part of life and feeling bad about them is natural. Sadness and grief makes us think deeply about our lives, it forces us to examine where we are, where we've been, where we're going, and how we think we'll get there. We must honor that part of ourselves that mourns. We have to use all the crayons in the box not just the reds and the yellows.
So how about you? Have you allowed yourself to sink into that place of Sacred Grief. Have you allowed your feelings to be fully felt? Do you hold yourself together until it is convenient for everybody for you to have feelings? Well guess what that doesn't work. It doesn't make you weak or a selfish person to need to take a bit of time to allow your feelings to flow. So say no to some people, make space for yourself. Touch your grief and hold it as the sacred thing it is, for it comes out of your love and connection to others. Through it maybe you will feel the grace beneath that love. I hope you do and I hope you learn to paint with the colors of all your emotions.
Peace and Blessings,