The heat & sunshine has brought out the fire baby in me these last few days. I've been feeling connected to my message and my mission with Gravedancers. I believe there is a shift happening in the way we do life after loss, and in the way we navigate impermanence and change in general.
This is something I wanted to write out for myself today, and I decided to share it.
There’s this quote that floats around the grief space on social media that really kind of chaps my ass and it goes something like, “Grief is just love with no place to go”.
I try to be responsible about the words I share. I'm extra careful when the words aren't my own. Regardless of my intention, the words I share that are written by others will have an impact.
If I’m having some sort of reaction to a set of words, I sit with them and try to dig a little deeper. The words “just love” and “no place” give me hives and make me feel heavy & hopeless, and at the same time I feel words of my own about to spill out of me. Two words in particular:
I feel extremely reactive to these words, because what’s at stake when I take these words to heart are the belief systems that have helped me to deal with my own grief & take the drivers seat when it comes to my healing & transformation (just an aside...transformation is not the goal of grief, it's non-negotiable in life after loss & life itself - this could be a whole other blog post).
I see those words all over the place, “Grief is just love with no place to go”. Usually in an ethereal font with a lonely girl in the background, maybe with her head in her knees. Occasionally the words will be wrapped in delicate flowers or vibrant borders to really grab my attention. Sometimes it appears in blog posts by noteworthy bloggers in the grief space. Maybe it's helpful for someone out there. Maybe I'm totally full of shit.
I feel offended & indignant when I read these words. My love for the people I’ve lost was too strong to have "no place to go". It may have been in "limbo" at certain points in my life after loss, but surely this energy goes somewhere...
I do want to say that I've read the full quote, and it resonates in some ways. If it's been helpful for you, that's wonderful & I'd love to hear how, truly. To me, it feels like every time it's shared, the author's pain is taken out of context & distributed to people who want to know their pain is also valid. There are good intentions there - everyone wants to be seen. & I believe there's more to the story of how we live with loss, and this quote is sort of a dead end.
When I read the words "just love" and "no place" to myself what I hear is, “End of story. Period. Nothing else. You're done. Love is cancelled”. Meanwhile my heart wants to call out – but wait! What about this? What about this possibility? What about that Dr. Seuss book told me I can go anywhere? Can't my love go anywhere I want it to? Can we just try it?
If we think about love as energy – energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can be transformed. It can be sustainable, and it can be unsustainable. It can also become stagnant…sitting limbo (& not the fun kind)…and manifest into dis-ease. It can go directly to the organs, manifest itself as depression, lash out at loved ones, spend its days sleeping and binge eating and its nights drinking. It can tighten the shoulders and the heart space. It can become a barricade for laughter, lightheartedness, and transform into something that looks totally different from love.
It seems to me this energy DOES have somewhere to go after all. So this is good news. At least now, we have a choice.
My hypothesis in life after loss: What if I could learn to direct that love energy inward, for the sake of becoming one more light in a world where darkness is non-negotiable and unavoidable?
And what if we could learn to direct this love energy inward earlier in our grief, rather than later, when it can manifest into dis-ease and depression? What if some unnecessary suffering could be prevented if I do the work now…if I take even the smallest steps to learn to LOVE myself through life after loss?
That was more my speed. And also…words are just words. My next inquiry was, how do I put this into practice?
I started dancing every day to move stagnant energy.
I meditated on the difficult emotions that would arise. I’d examine them and open my heart to welcome them, no matter how ugly or messy that process was.
I said no to the things that felt silly to engage with, and I said yes to the things that felt easy to say yes to.
I rested when I needed to and nourished myself with home-cooked meals.
I wrote my feelings down (or talked to myself…).
& two words: Yin Yoga
Of course I still binged junk food sometimes, stayed in bed way too late, lashed out at loved ones, felt anger towards myself for things I said/did/didn’t say to my loved ones. Sometimes I overworked or underworked myself and forgot to take time to move my body. I forgot how to laugh sometimes, and there were many many many moments I felt small and scared and disconnected from who I truly am. I even relapsed into my crippling death anxiety (you can learn more about that in my podcast, episodes 1 & 13). I pointed my finger outward and and had to redirect it inward over and over and over again.
All for the sake of making things a little easier on my future self. All for the sake of finding sustainable paths to healing. All for the sake of being as solid as I can be for someone going through the same thing. All for the sake of inspiring others to prove to the nay-sayers what has been affirmed for me and so many others on this journey: you’re stronger than you think.
One of my favorite controversial people in the personal development sphere said in a lecture, “Be the strongest person at your father’s funeral. That might be a good goal. Be the person who can act nobly in the face of tragedy”.
I never said it was easy. It requires willingness to dive into the darkness, flex our self-compassion muscles, ask for help & seek support from people who will be in your corner. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. It may be the most complicated and life-affirming journey you’ll ever take.
& if that scares you, you’re ready.
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& for the fun of it...
Head here to read "Oh, the Places You'll Go" (to read about some shit you already...know...:) ).