Muse: to reflect, contemplate, to
meditate in silence on some subject.
Most of us ride a crisis, pulling the reins on our feelings,
hoping somehow to stop them so that the pain will go away.
We have become a grief avoidant, pain avoidant culture almost to the point that we think we should not have to experience pain. We think there is something wrong with us if we are anything but “happy.” Pain, sadness, loss, and, grief are all part of the human experience. We aren’t here to be part human but instead, we are here to be fully human and this means learning to allow all of our emotions. Instead of pulling the reins on our feelings maybe we all need to learn to let go of the reins so that we can experience all of our emotions, not just the ones that we like. Learning to let go of the reins is really just learning to trust that we have something to learn from our pain.
Grief is a continual learning process so may we be patient with ourselves and each other as we learn to let go of the reins.
When we have felt our hearts break open from loss what we don’t realize is that in its breaking the heart begins to make its own medicine; medicine that will in time help us heal. It is not medicine like we usually think of that comes in pills, or powders, patches, or liquids. It is not a medicine that comes from outside of ourselves but is instead medicine that comes from within us.
Our hearts are able to produce many types of medicine even some like the synthetic ones that we have ingested. Our hearts are able to produce their own anesthesia especially when our loss is very recent. Its ability to do this shields us so we won’t feel the immensity of our loss all at once. If we took in the reality of our loss all at once it would overwhelm us. Along with its own anesthesia, the heart also provides its own analgesic so that we won’t immediately be bombarded with the intensity of our pain. Our heart is wise and protects us by letting our pain in at a rate that we can bear.
One of the greatest medicines that the heart is able to make is love. Love is the feeling that will guide us through our grief. Love helps us remember that we are not alone on this journey. Love is our constant companion even though we may not always be able to feel it. Love acts as a soothing balm that helps to comfort the ache of our wounded hearts. Love helps us keep the memories of our loved ones alive. And love helps us to remember that those we have lost live on in us and through us.
Hope is another medicine that is created by the heart. Hope is the energy that enables us to rise to face another day. Hope is a trust that we can and will survive the pain of this loss. Hope is like a shining star way off in the distance. Over time as it begins to move closer its light begins to shine onto us and within us showing us that our world won’t always be shrouded in darkness. It is hope that helps to light our way on this convoluted journey.
Tears are another medicine that our hearts produce in order to help us heal. We produce different types of tears that have different healing properties. For example, our everyday tears that moisten our eyes contain different chemicals than tears that are caused when we cut an onion. Tears of grief contain chemicals that help lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate and respiration rate which in turn helps to calm our nervous system and helps us heal. So we should never try to stop our tears or hide our tears because they serve a healing purpose.
Emotions are another medicine that is generated by our hearts that helps us to heal. In times of grief, our emotions can be all over the place from numbness and confusion to despair and anger. It is important that we allow ourselves to feel whatever comes up as each feeling contains its own medicine. When we acknowledge our feelings and allow them to move through us we begin to heal.
Our hearts are also very good at helping us to pause, to rest, to wait. The word wait comes from a root word meaning “to watch.” Originally to wait meant to apply attentiveness or watchfulness throughout a period of time and was a highly regarded experience (Kidd 1990). Grieving is a highly regarded experience that cannot be rushed. When we wait we are giving ourselves permission to be where we really are, to let what is wounded begin to heal as we are transformed by this experience into more of who we really are.
Our hearts are wise and are able to prescribe the exact medicines that we need when and how we need them. Because the heart can make its own medicine it allows us to heal from the inside out and in the process the heart also heals itself.
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:
What medicine has your heart made out of your grief?
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.