Some Days, We Need to Feel It

One of the things that has surprised me as I’ve progressed in my journey of humaning is the important role that grieving plays in growing, healing and evolving.  Like perhaps many of us, I often associated grieving almost exclusively with death.  And, of course, that is one of the most profound forms of grief and loss and can’t be overstated.  When we consider loss more broadly, though, something else emerges.  If grieving is part of the process of moving through loss, grieving has a much larger and more frequent place in our lives than we (or, certainly, I) had realized.

I remember returning to New York the fall after my son turned one.  Almost five years back in California, I had also recently passed the six-month mark in my first in-house role following nearly a decade doing M&A and other corporate transactional and governance work at a big global law firm.  I still hadn’t cracked the code on balance or boundaries (or, rather, discovered, as I now understand, that it is a constant intentional practice and more of a rhythm).  But, I was on vacation and present with my family, which was something!  Steady forward progress…

As we walked, charmed, through Central Park on a golden October day, we reminisced about times when we were still New Yorkers.  The afternoon of one of my partner‘s first days living in the city with me when we rented boats and paddled around the Lake.  Feeling all couple-y passing under Bow Bridge.  The time we walked from our place in the Village up to and through the park and beyond.  Trying to go from one end of the island to the other in the span of one day. 
Very soon, though, the shared memories gave way to the many more memories my partner had of his own.  Saturdays spent running in the park while I worked.  Long runs through the park on his way home from Connecticut, knowing I would be at the office all night.  There was no resentment in his glowing reflection.  But, hearing it, I started to ache.  The era was over.  And I wasn’t there.  I had missed the moment.   
Versions of this scene have played out time and again in my life.  In all of our lives, I suspect.  Did we do the right thing?  Make the right choice?  Are we living it right?

Of course, the road not taken exists alongside that which was.  And the loss is not the whole picture.  Same thing with other types of loss – time, approval, opportunity, identity, relationship.  Unfulfilled longings.  Disappointment.  Regret.  But that doesn’t make it any less real. 
So, how do we move on?  With heaviness on our heart, how do we move through?
In seeking answers to these questions, I’ve found a certain magic in grieving.  Some tears need to be cried (real or metaphorical). 
This can feel counter-intuitive.  So often, these moments of reflection accompany a calling for something more.  Something greater.  We are usually seeking light.  Or solutions.  So, why focus on grief
Michael Singer talks about samskaras in The Untethered Soul and the importance of releasing the blockages created by the unfinished energy patterns that come from holding in or holding on.  He talks about the practice of bravely (and, even eagerly) letting your “stuff” get hit and feeling through the feelings to release them.  About pain being the price of freedom.  So, here.

It is also true that grief is not the only thing.  Grief is often a gateway.  Sometimes, there are things we need to release or accept to be able to be open to all the possibility that exists.
A beautiful friend of mine talks about grieving fully and celebrating fiercely.  I think that captures it so well.  It’s about feeling what needs to be felt.  It’s about being real and opening ourselves to the full range of feelings that humaning involves.  It’s about recognizing that grieving and celebrating are inextricably linked.  Just like darkness and light.  Pleasure and pain.  And seeing the beauty, even while it may hurt.
Also, feelings are data.  For that reason alone, it’s worth embracing them (with whatever support you may need for that journey).  They have a language all their own and space helps decode it.  Learning the language empowers choice.  And action.
So, I invite you to consider – is there anything on your heart that needs grieving?  And, what might be possible on the other side?

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