Grief, the Tenderizer, is a Thorough Teacher
Updated: Aug 8, 2021
Recently I experienced a loss, a big one. My Kundalini Yoga teacher passed, suddenly at the age of 42. The shock of this loss, the gaping hole it has left in me, continues to be felt. At some point i remember feeling pissed, angry. 'Seriously?' I heard myself say, 'how could you?' 'I thought you were going to be around for the rest of my life' followed.
Initially after her passing the loss I felt was heavy, like a heavy blanket that seemed to be with me wherever i went. A few days passed and I discovered that I felt the loss in different ways, it would come up suddenly and without notice, but there have been more gaps in between. Death feels so final. The thought of not receiving more information from her brilliant mind and her extensive experience shook me deeply initially, left me feeling deflated, there was a sense of hopelessness about it. Just now I am beginning to experience the sweetness and gifts of her passing, her teachings.
As all of us, I feel I have come to know grief deeply throughout my life. I would venture to say that grief has been and is part of daily life. The grief that follows endings, the grief that holds heartbreak, disappointments, unexpected life transitions, loneliness, etc. Grief is such a deep part of life that it baffles me that we, in no uncertain terms, deny it, resist it, avoid it, vilify it. It's always so interesting to me that even though we are wired, evolutionarily sensitized to experience grief, we find it so difficult and challenging to deal with. Of course I'm not saying grief should be the primary quality by which we experience life, but it has a place, an important one in my opinion.
I have found through my own experience that grief, despite the sadness, is protective in nature. Whenever I have been in situations which have activated grief in me, I have found it to be protective as it softens and 'tenderizes' my senses. It invariably puts me in touch with the softest part of me, the most vulnerable, the one that speaks very quietly and listens very deeply. That part of me that feels itself from the inside out, that experiences life in sensations deep inside the body, deep inside the heart. Grief, i feel, protects us from the usual expectations and reactions that we engage with in the world. It makes the realities , the roles and agendas we took to be so steadfast and true seem so superfluous, so inconsequential and trivial. As if it gave us a 'time out' to feel, whatever needs to be felt, to acknowledge our humanity, our smallness and the way it connects us to the bigness of it all. I notice how difficult the experience and expression of grief is for society to deal with, for our families and loved ones who prefer to see us in a particular light, a golden reflection of their own purpose, value, meaning. Grief reminds others of their own grief, their own losses, and this is not an easy thing for most of us to face, never mind feeling. I find that it is through experiencing the vulnerability of grief that we can touch upon our greatness, our strength, our power, our compassion.
I propose you allow grief, the great tenderizer, the thorough teacher, to teach you, to open up vulnerable doors within you that allow you access to the beauty of humility, forgiveness and compassion. It helps to remind yourself that this moment of grief, no matter how difficult, has gifts that can alter the current agendas and identities that like to blindly run the show. I propose a gentle exercise; right now or whenever you notice grief wanting to be felt, very softly and gently, allow it in, ask it to sit, face it and kindly look into its eyes and let it know it is welcomed. Let it know that it has a place, a very much revered place within you. Ask it what its purpose is this time around, what is needed to understand it's gifts, how you can help and how you can grow stronger, kinder, wiser from this experience. I invite you to do this in the most neutral, nonjudgmental manner possible, just observe, allow it, notice it and observe your body's sensations, the emotions and thoughts that rise as you do this and just observe, Notice what's there, what's needed, what wants to shift, what wants to grow, just listen and observe and if you can, provide yourself with as much compassion as you can muster, wrap yourself up in it, let yourself be bathed in it, showering over you, filling you, lifting you, holding you. With practice you'll begin to notice how tender grief can be, the thoroughness of its teachings and the way in which it makes room for shift as we experience the beauty and expansiveness of itself.