Muse: to reflect, contemplate, to
meditate in silence on some subject.
Those pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.
Sometimes we don’t acknowledge someone’s grief because it makes us uncomfortable. Maybe we don’t know what to say or we are worried we will upset the bereaved. These reasons for not acknowledging another’s pain are about us and our discomfort rather than focusing on the pain of the one who is grieving. When we don’t say anything not only do we keep the person’s pain invisible but in a way, we are also making the person invisible by not acknowledging the truth of their situation. Also, we don’t always need words to acknowledge someone’s pain. We can give them a hug, a loving look, or a gentle squeeze of their hand to let them know we see them, we acknowledge their situation, and we honor their pain.
Pain is never comfortable so we must remember that is okay to be uncomfortable as we learn to be present for one another’s pain.
Please feel free to share this “museletter” with others that you think may benefit from it.
As most of us have learned grief can be a very bitter pill to swallow. And, to be honest, I think it is supposed to be bitter just like it is supposed to be painful, sad, lonely, confusing, difficult, and inconvenient, etc. Life is filled with both bitter and sweet moments but we seem to only want the sweet ones and try to avoid the bitter or more distasteful ones. When we don’t like what is being served on this plate called life we try to push it away and look for something sweeter to satisfy our taste buds. When we try to avoid those things that we label as bitter or distasteful this avoidance results in us rejecting our authentic feelings, abandoning who we really are, and what we are experiencing. So, many times we end up living lives where we pretend to feel better than we actually do and find ourselves running faster and farther to avoid these difficult emotions.
As human beings, we all tend to seek pleasure and avoid pain but somewhere along the way we began hoping for and searching for only the sweetness in life. We started to believe that if we had more sweetness and less bitter than our lives were somehow better not understanding that the bitter comes along with the sweet. As we have tried to circumvent the bitterness of life it has made the bitterness feel overwhelming when it does show up in our lives. When that something does come along and capsizes our lives we feel like there has been some horrible mistake and that this isn’t supposed to be happening to us. Sometimes we even feel like we have done something to cause this unfortunate event or that if we had tried harder or done something better this wouldn’t have happened.
The avoidance of bitterness or difficult things peppers almost every aspect of our lives. We have learned to shun death which in turn leads us to avoid our feelings of grief. We have found a bazillion ways to distract ourselves so we don’t have to feel or taste the bitterness of our reality. Even our foods have become sweeter over the years as we have a tendency to avoid things in our diet that actually taste bitter. I don’t think that we can deny that all of this is related. When we shy away from the bitterness in one area of our lives we look for ways to turn away from it in other areas and when we do we numb our taste buds to the totality of life. Our taste buds allow us to experience the tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. We came in equipped to taste the sweetness and the bitterness of life just as we came in equipped with the tools to feel all of our emotions. Instead of trying to control what flavors we experience in life maybe we should learn to savor all of them.
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:
How has the bitterness of grief taught me about the sweetness of life?
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.
Photo By: Jason Robb
For a seed to achieve
its greatest expression,
it must come completely undone.
The shell cracks,
its insides come out and
To someone who doesn’t
it would look like complete devastation.
Holding What Must Be Held
Down by the river we sit and talk.
When I think I can’t ache any more,
the world serves more heartache.
And I meet it.
I say no, but I feel myself stretched
by some great invisible hand,
rendering me spacious enough to hold
what must be held.
When we rise to leave,
the river doesn’t stop.
Nor does the forgiving wind.
I swear I feel them move
right through me.