Muse: to reflect, contemplate, to
meditate in silence on some subject.
How many nights now
has the stream told you:
“This is the way to deal with obstacles.”
It is so difficult to go with the flow of grief especially in early grief. In the early days of grief, we may feel more like we are drowning in the flow or being pulled apart by this so-called flow. We may just want a reprieve–to be able to take a breath instead of being constantly pulled under by the weight of our grief. Most of the time we feel like we are going against the flow which is usually caused by our resistance to this new reality. After a while, we get tired of swimming upstream so we slowly learn to let go and let the stream show us the way.
May we all learn to listen to the stream in our own time.
Please feel free to share this “museletter” with others that you think may benefit from it.
Many of us tend to think of symptoms of grief as the bad guys, as something that we want to get rid of, something we want to get over, something we feel we have to conquer. The truth is symptoms of grief are language; a language all of their own. As with any language we will need to take the time to learn and comprehend this new form of communication so that we can become more fluent in this new, and often unwanted, language. One of the things that can make this new language all the more challenging to learn is that even though symptoms of grief are a language they are a language that doesn’t always use words.
Everyone is scared when they are first faced with learning this language. Many have said that it is the hardest and most painful language to learn. So we have to be gentle with ourselves and learn to go at our own pace and not compare ourselves with others who may also be learning this new language.
In order to learn any new language, it takes practice, practice, practice, and of course, grief gives us plenty of opportunities to practice this new way of speaking, this new way of being. Most times we won’t want to practice because we don’t like this new language and we definitely didn’t sign up for this course. But here it is. This new language that’s trying to teach us how to decipher these unsolicited symptoms of grief. The more we practice and listen to these symptoms the less intimidating this new language will become.
Sometimes we don’t want to use this new language because we are afraid we will offend others if we don’t say things quite right. Or we may feel that they don’t want to hear us because they aren’t fluent in this language and our use of it makes them uncomfortable. If they haven’t had to struggle with learning this language they will one day and they will remember how you persevered even when you didn’t want to.
Since this is a language of the heart it can be very tiring to learn especially in the beginning. So we need to rest as needed. Many times we will want to go back and use the old familiar language that we were used to speaking before we experienced this loss. But we soon find out that this language somehow feels too small and it no longer is able to capture all that we are feeling. In time we understand that this new language is here to stay and we are going to have to learn it.
Tears are one of the major components of this grief language. For some of us this part of the language comes easily for others this is a more difficult piece to learn. Tears have their own special way of communicating as they are able to convey what the heart is feeling. Sometimes we think we shouldn’t let our tears speak in front of others as we have this misconception that we should be strong for everyone else and we don’t want to be embarrassed by letting others hear our hearts breaking. Or sometimes we think we will make others uncomfortable if we cry so instead of expressing ourselves we cry on the inside. The language of tears needs to be shed as well as shared so that we can begin to heal.
Eventually, we will learn to tell our story using our words that are a part of this new language. Not only is it important for us to tell our story but it is also important to have others hear our story. Telling our story is a way we process our loss as we try to understand what has happened. We find the more we can tell our story the more fluent we become in this new language.
This is a language no one ever wants to learn but sooner or later we all do. As difficult as it is to learn in time we discover that it is the ultimate love language.
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:
In what ways have my grief symptoms taught me a new language?
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.