Grief has a way of surfacing at the most interesting times. Tragedy is similar in nature, it barges in when everything seems to be going "just right." Often at the peak of happiness, we are confronted with challenging life events. A few weeks ago I was thinking about how I had fully recovered from my last surgery and how wonderful it felt to be at optimum health; I had even started running again! BAM - the next day I was cut off by a driver and we collided on the highway. Luckily everyone survived. I spent the next few days in rest mode, grieving the loss of my newly recovered and energized body.
Last week, I set the intention to write, be it about my accident or whatever - the goal was to get back to writing. Then I received the jolting news about my friend Erin. She took a solo flight and upon landing her plane crashed and she did not survive. At first the news did not make sense, I immediately thought about the last time we hung out and how vibrant and full of life she was. Then I thought to myself "well this just isn't fair." Though I research and work with death and loss on a daily basis, I still get swallowed up in my own grief at times. It's what reminds me that I am utterly human. I grieve and feel emotions just like the rest of the world. What a relief!
Over the last week I have felt vulnerable in ways that are simply hard to describe with words. My heart has been especially tender and I have found that just when you think you have an idea of how grief manifests in the body and mind, a new set of triggers are formed. Grief can be sneaky and as I have mentioned before, it demands to be heard. I have tried the stuff-it game and I have lost every time. Like a volcano that irrupts to create new land, an irruption of grief is a natural way that the heart regenerates itself.
So what's up, why am I writing about how painful and raw my grief is?
Well, this in-between state has catapulted me into a life beyond my wildest dreams. It's not a life that is free from suffering, quite the opposite. It is a life of intention, purpose, and a whole lot of love! Some of my greatest losses have brought me to the most intimate realizations about who I am and the life I lead. I've come to discover that the most important role we can play in this life, is the role of being human and conscious. The humanness asks of us to be vulnerable with others, smile at strangers, accept our shortcomings, forgive easily, and to love BIG. And our consciousness asks of us to take in the beauty of human nature, to feel our feet grounded onto the earth, to be full present when we spend time with our loved ones, and to understand that this one crazy life is short and we should seize every moment as if it is our last.
I wish I could take away the world's grief, but that is impossible. So instead of focusing on the impossible, I choose to focus on what is possible. Many people choose not to accept that with life comes loss and I believe that is what keeps us in the suffering. It was once said, pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. When our hearts break over the loss of someone or something we have loved deeply, do we allow it to break open?
When grief knocks, may it bless you into spaces of your heart that you may have never dared to go before. Grief is what makes us human, it is what reminds us that we are living.
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.