Muse: to reflect, contemplate, to
meditate in silence on some subject.
Optimism is not required for healing.
We seem to live in a culture that asks us to “always look on the bright side of life.” Even in deep loss many of the messages that we get from those around us are asking us to feel better than we actually do. In a hurry-up, fast-paced world there can be pressure to feel better before we are ready. What grief asks us to do is slow down and feel what we really feel not what we “think” we should be feeling or what others want us to feel. In order for us to begin healing, we have to let ourselves feel as bad as we feel. Healing does not require optimism but it does require authenticity and authenticity takes time, compassion, and trust in our own feelings.
Please feel free to share this “museletter” with others that you think may benefit from it.
We live in a world where we search for answers on Google and look for meaning in dictionaries. We have been taught to look for our answers outside of ourselves.
We always seem to be searching for answers to one thing or another. What are we searching for when we search for answers? Certainty? Predictability? Security? If we can find the answers we are looking for it helps us to make some sense of our world and life feels a little less scary.
After we have suffered a loss we are well aware of the fact that our world is no longer certain or predictable or secure. Our worlds have been turned upside down and we try to right our worlds by looking for answers that often feel unattainable. We often feel that it would be easier to withstand the pain if we had some answers. So we ask the questions and search for answers knowing that our answers will not be found on Google or in an online dictionary. Instead, we have to look inside and rely on our own internal search engine and innate dictionary.
At first, our internal search engine and dictionary seem to be lost. No matter how hard we look within we can’t seem to locate them. After some time when we do finally stumble upon them, they seem to be broken. We ask questions and we get no response. We only get a lot of silence surrounded by darkness.
So we change our strategy and begin to shout our questions thinking somehow our internal search engine has lost its ability to hear us. This only causes our questions to echo back to us as we continue our quest for answers.
Then we try to demand answers as we rapid-fire our questions thinking if we ask them often enough and fast enough we will surely get an answer. In place of answers we just get more noise and feel increasingly befuddled.
At some point, our internal search engine becomes overwhelmed and freezes and forces us to reboot.
When we shut down we come to know that the more we search for answers the less we will find them. In the quiet and in the stillness we understand that our answers will find us when we are ready for them.
The answers that come will not be loud and clear or in large print instead our answers are more of a felt sense. We will be able to feel our answers from our inner knowing. We must listen closely and learn to trust our own internal wisdom.
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 have the answers I have found lessened my pain or not lessened my pain?
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.
When You’re Falling, Dive by Mark Matousek