“Today I am a weeping willow tree. I've given myself permission
to weep all day long and tomorrow, too...”
by Patricia Flasch
Dear sweet listener,
In all the many times I've been in a grieving process after a death, I had this idea that grief had an expiration date. Certainly after a year, 5 years even 10 years, I would have suffered the loss, worked through the feelings and arrived on the other side of grief.
Since I believe we live in a 'mourning avoidance culture', what I felt, (that my grief continues in some way with every loss) was wrong. I think the people in my life
mostly wanted to make me 'feel better'. Perhaps the reason they want me to feel better, is so that they do not have to feel their own unprocessed grief. Within this idea of making me 'feel better' is a powerful judgment – “shut your grief down, it makes me feel uncomfortable!”
I learned, and perhaps we all learn, to be ashamed to feel what we feel. We learn to avoid people who are openly grieving, especially if they are weeping and we make comments like “this too shall pass”, or “I hope you feel better soon.” These comments tend to suggest that our grief should go underground and I believe this only intensifies the grief. This is also a part of the teachings of duality - “happy is good” and “sad is bad”. This really sets up self rejection when we are at our most vulnerable – living in loss and needing places to express it!
Though my father has been dead almost 60 years, there are still occasions when tears come and I miss him deeply. I miss the way he loved me and the way he would toss me in the air when he arrived home from work each day. I remember he once bought me red cowboy boots and I have no desire to squash this memory.
This memory is a holy experience. In my relationship with my sweet papa, no time has really passed – his heart and my heart remain very much connected and we have conversations sometimes; he from the other side, me here reaching to him!
I don't believe in closure and I am not looking for closure. I am looking for a way to remain connected; his spirit and mine. I am not FROZEN in grief-- I am letting grief walk alongside me as I go on living the most vital and passionate life I can. Grief flows through, then it passes and other life experiences call for my full attention and participation and I meet them with a truly open heart. Perhaps when we stay open to grief, we automatically stay open to the rest of life!
My beloved English, white golden retriever, Grace died about 10 years ago. She was my partner for 13 years and a love of my life. She is still my invisible service companion. Again, I have no desire to get over her or to reach closure, it's ok with me that she remain a part of me.
Sometimes when I'm out for a hike in the mountains, and they have signs posted from animal sanctuaries for dogs available for adoption now, I look over the list very carefully to see if Grace might be there. I miss her body.
The way I love and care for the dogs in my life today is an honoring of Grace. She insists that I go on living and loving.
It's a huge relief to think we don't have to get over a death or loss; that there is no expiration date on grief. My beloved friend, Amba, tells me that we can be talking about Grace all the rest of my days.
I want to do my part to create a “grief acceptance culture.” I can do this by accepting, even cherishing, my own yearning for the ones I love. When the students who come into my life are grieving, I can genuinely encourage whatever ways they seem to be expressing their grief. I don't have to change the subject, unless they want to; I can help them see that they can make room in their hearts for their own sweet grief and every other feeling...
One of my favorite lines from Rumi's work is “this grief you cry out from, draws you towards union. Your pure sadness IS the secret cup.” This Rumi poem “The Love Dog poem” was actually the key element for the title I chose for my book, “Becoming a Love Dog.” (currently available on Amazon.com)
Bowing towards you in your grief,
by Patricia Flasch
Even though my life feels satisfying on the outside
There have been some gray clouds lurking in the background
It feels like trying to hold back a damn…
This morning the clouds burst
I’ve been surrendering to a lifetime of loneliness and grief
Triggered by my husband’s occasional travels…
Old memories pour on through
The day my dad died when I was 7
The chapped lips that wouldn’t go away
Showing up at high school when the doors opened at 5:30 am
The college years of wonderful grades and deep despair
The years of sexual promiscuity
The years sorting out litigation
The two broken marriages
The sometimes 80 hour work weeks
The incessant use of food or alcohol
All fueled by loneliness and a grief I was unable to feel…
Today, though, this very moment
I am a weeping willow tree
I’ve given myself permission to weep all day long, tomorrow, too…
So, go to a meeting, and weep
Pick up the dry cleaning and weep
Go to the bank and weep
See a sad movie and weep
Go to the old animal’s sanctuary, and weep
Just singing a sad song today…
It’s my privilege, my deepest honor to
Feel this loneliness, this grief
IT’S MY TICKET HOME…