Muse: to reflect, contemplate, to
meditate in silence on some subject.
“What if we never ‘get over’ certain deaths? What if the idea that we should have by now, or will, is a great palace lie? What if we’re not supposed to? What if it takes a life time…?
What if we never really “get over” anything?
We say we “get over” the flu or a cold or the chicken pox but do we? When we have these illnesses we build antibodies to them so there is still evidence in our bodies that these things have affected us.
We also think that we “get over” grief and therefore it shouldn’t have any lasting effects.
When you look up the definition of “get over” you see words like overcome, triumph over, master, to solve, and my personal favorite, move on.
Words like get over, move on, and closure are concepts that we have made up to make us feel better and to make us believe that there is somehow a finality to our grief. We are led to believe that one day we will magically be better and we will never have to think about our loss or feel it again but when this doesn’t happen we think there is something wrong with us.
The truth is we aren’t supposed to forget or move on or get over grief. It lessens over time and becomes part of us just like the antibodies that are developed after an illness. Love is never past tense so our grief will never be past tense.
So, in reality, I guess it does take a lifetime.
Be patient with yourself.
Please feel free to share this “museletter” with others that you think may benefit from it.
I have never met a heavy heart that wasn’t a phone booth with a red cape inside.
My red cape is a bit tattered and worn as it hangs inside the rundown phone booth of my heart. I never asked for this cape nor did I ever want this cape but instead it was placed upon me the day my son died. At first, the cape was way too heavy and way too big and it felt like it was smothering me. I tried to remove the cape but it was too massive and unrelenting. The weight of the cape wore me down and held me in place. I was in a place that I didn’t want to be but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t escape. After much protesting and struggling I realized that the cape was not going anywhere. Over time I grew accustomed to the cape always surrounding me. It started to feel more familiar and didn’t seem as large as it once did but it still remained crushingly heavy.
When I finally understood that this cape was not going to retreat I decided to see what it might have to teach me and I soon discovered that even a grief cape bestows superpowers.
To feel deeply is a superpower. It takes superhuman strength to walk through the depths of despair as we feel ourselves being transformed from the inside out. Feeling deeply allows our broken hearts to remain open and changes who we are and how we see the world as we interact in the world in a more authentic and tender way.
Strength is another supernatural power this grief cape supplies us with. It gives us the strength to carry the weight of our pain until one day we realize that our grief does not feel quite as heavy as it once did. It isn’t that the grief has gotten lighter per se but that we have become stronger.
Wearing this cape also gives us extraordinary courage as we face the fear of learning to live without the physical presence of the ones we love. It takes remarkable courage to hold in our hearts what we were once able to hold physically.
Patience is another superpower that is shown to us through the wearing of our grief cape. Grief asks us to slow down and let our healing happen rather than trying to force it to happen. We learn that there is no rushing grief as it has its own timeline.
Vulnerability is another ability that grief offers us to heal. In grief, we don’t get a mask to hide our identity instead part of this superpower is that all of our masks are removed to reveal our true identity so we can be truly seen.
Shapeshifting is another superpower that is given to us in our grief process. Being transformed from the inside out is a painful process and we end up feeling like we have changed into someone we hardly recognize. We are transformed into something deeper, more real, and more compassionate.
The wearing of our grief cape also instills us with night vision. Grief pulls us into the darkness of our loss and it takes a while for our eyes to adapt to this darkness. When our eyes finally adjust we are able to look within and allow ourselves to feel all that we are being asked to feel which over time will show us the tools that can assist us out of our darkness.
Over time I have grown into my grief cape and it doesn’t feel as overwhelming as it once did. These days I don’t wear my grief cape as often as I used to but it always hangs close by in the phone booth of my heart. Some days I take it down and pull it around me as I think about what was and what could have been and other days it places itself around me as a comfort when memories come flooding back.
Although faded and worn I can always feel the presence of my cape influencing my life. It serves as a constant reminder not only of what I have lost but also what I have gained because of my loss
“For survivors, the word closure often connotes that
the bereaved are underachievers who flunked a grief course.”
The Written Word
There are many ways to express our grief and putting our thoughts, feelings, and ideas on paper can be a very healing process. The suggested prompts here can be done one time or multiple times. I’ve learned it helps to set a timer for 10-15 minutes and keep your pen moving for the entire time. I encourage using pen and paper rather than a keyboard as there is a hand/heart connection when writing longhand. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar, just write. When the timer goes off you stop writing even if you are in mid-sentence. Don’t reread your work at this time. Just set it aside for a couple of weeks and then go back and see what your words may have to say to you.
(If you choose to use a keyboard the same instructions apply).
Try this writing prompt:
My grief superpowers are…?
I will list some books, articles, poems, movies, or other resources that I as well as others have found helpful on this grief journey. I hope these resources may deepen your understanding of grief, maybe bring you some sense of comfort, and help you to feel less alone in your grief.