It is important, as we get older, to learn how to grieve. Although this may sound self-evident, experience has taught me that it is not. In a culture that emphasizes stoicism and forward movement, in which time is deemed “of the essence,” and there is little toleration for slowness, inwardness, and melancholy, grieving – a healthy, necessary aspect of life – is too often overlooked.Over the years, in working with people who are grieving, I’ve encouraged them first of all to surrender to the experience of their pain. To counteract our natural tendency to turn away from pain, we open to it as fully as possible and allow our hearts to break. We must take enough time to remember our losses – be they friends or loved ones passed away, the death of long-held hopes or dreams, the loss of homes, careers, or countries, or health we may never get back again. Rather than close ourselves to grief, it helps to realize that we only grieve for what we love.
ram dass, one of the 20th/21st century's great spiritual teachers, reminds us to grieve. we usually think of grieving after the death of someone close. in addition, he reminds us, there are other losses to be honoured.
in a long life we have experienced many. have we truly grieved them? have we truly surrendered to the fact of life that is a death? have we opened to the offerings of pain?
looking back on a life of many years, tens of thousands of days, allows us to grieve. we can slow down enough to recall the significant events and people in our life. we can work with the memory...painful, challenging, joyful...and grieve its passing.
we also can take the opportunity to repair any harm done, if possible.we can open to the process of forgiveness...for ourselves and others. we might finally be able to be kind to ourselves, to acknowledge deeply our human-ness, and to open to the foilbles and frailties of others.
we can, in our hearts, allow our actions to be seen in a different light, even those events we might have seen as mistakes. we can take a breath and see that each mistake we made contributed to our growth. each one was a stepping stone to the present moment, to where we are now. in this inquiry our broken hearts might be relieved of burdens carried for decades.
then freedom is more available, then the breath flows more easily, and then, when we take the steps in dying, there may be less holding us back.
then we might be more available to love.