On grief and winter
From a bereavement counsellor to a bereavement client in one day. Grief carries no warning, death does not wait, time does not stop, nothing stays the same, nothing lasts. Things change from one minute to the next and all we are left with is the present moment, just now.
Having sat opposite people in grief for years I suddenly got it more than I ever did before. I experienced bereavement when younger and, yes, it always gripped me to the core and it was something that did not just pass I had to live it every day, work through it every day for many years, 7 years seems to be the number for me. Here it was again, in my face, unapologetic, under my skin and everywhere in my body and I froze. I knew I could not accompany anyone on their grief journey for the time being, not now, not for a while. I was the client now in need of a counsellor.
Emotions consume you within seconds, you don’t ask for it, you don’t expect it yet you feel it so deeply you might not even recognise yourself in that moment. It is often unreal and you question how life was a minute ago, nothing will ever be the same again. It is strikingly profound.
As I handed my notice I felt a wave of emotion, a wave of pain for me, not for my clients or friends or family, but me. I was IN it. The thing with grief you think you will be ok, you prepare, you tell yourself things, you philosophise on what approach you might take and you apply various beliefs to the journey of life and death, but nothing, nothing prepares you for it and the reason is – emotions have no reason, they just are. They are raw and in need of expression. They take over your body, your mind, your soul and one has to lay in bed with it all feeling like drowning, falling. The sunshine dims and curtains close just like when a coffin is covered with a sliding curtain ready for cremation. Is this it?
For many this is the end and for many it is a beginning of something new. The truth is it is both, the end of something and the beginning of something. Life and death walk together always. There is never one without the other. The Sun rises every day giving birth to the light and disappears every night extinguishing its shining, but the stars are born and darkness is welcomed by all of us sleeping and resting. Grief draws us into the dark place, into the place of pain, questioning and searching. A bit like winter time, which rules the land in its sleeping and invites us into the darkness of our thoughts and emotions. We are thrown into ourselves to dwell on our year past, reflect on all that touched us and got us here to this moment. In winter we are helpless with it all, some like it others crave light and sunshine and that’s ok. Both have meaning and lessons and so grief also teaches us to reflect, how to really feel and miss someone deeply who is never to walk the Earth again. Nothing teaches us more about life than death. Grab it with both hands, I say, run with it invigorated by knowing that each day will never come again. Create, breathe deeply, notice, most of all notice and feel all there is to see and feel around you. Engage with life hungrily knowing that all those that left their bodies are now within us. They are woven into tapestry of our lives forever and we will carry their spirit till it is time for us to hand it over to someone else. The cycle continues. The wheel turns on the 22 December and the light comes back again.
Live, breathe, feel
Blessed Yule and Winter Solstice!