“I came to understand that the depth of grief is equal to one’s capacity to love. There is no shame in grieving. Au contraire. We should hold dear those who grieve, for they are also the ones who love fiercely.” — Firoozeh Dumas, “What I needed was a rest break on the Island of Grieving and Useless Folks” Op-Ed, Los Angeles Times, August 28th, 2022
Last week I spoke with Rev. Dr. Mona West about her facilitating the conversation with author Jan Richardson this November and weaving in a discussion about the sense of underlying grief many of us are likely experiencing without even knowing it.
Then I read Firoozeh Dumas’ personal experience with the grief of an unexpected divorce and knew I’d write about it here.
Whether or not you’ve suffered the depth of grief from the loss of a loved one or a marriage, it’s likely you’ve experienced the loss of dreams for yourself, this country, or the world over the past two years. Perhaps like Dumas describes, you too needed “a rest break on the island of grieving and useless folks.” Chances are you didn’t get that and maybe didn’t even sense you needed it.
From a dedicated section in The New York Times devoted to burnout and other publications talking about people cutting back hours as they work remotely, I wonder if what so many are experiencing is not a lack of interest or energy in doing work they love, but in unprocessed grief from the last two or more years dragging them down.
As fall approaches with its themes of letting go and making space for something new, the next few weeks are a great time to pause and do your own inner scan and then seek help if needed. Is there something or someone you’ve lost and haven’t given yourself time or space to grieve?
“I am beginning to understand that grief never leaves, but it fades and makes room for other experiences.” — Firoozeh Dumas
For me, it was eye-opening and healing to recently realize I never fully processed the grief of a very painful two-year span from 2017 through 2018 as well as more recent losses. How might contemplating grief and how it has affected you or loved ones support you in making space for the gifts this fall has to offer?
May you find the courage to sit quietly and patiently—either alone or with a trusted professional —with your tender heart to listen for and acknowledge any grieving that needs to be done. And may you be blessed with peace and breathing space when you give yourself this gift.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”
“Do whatever you need to slow down. It is time to explore what you are carrying within.”
― Roxana Jones
In her book, Sparrow, Jan Richardson shares her journal reflections written after the loss of her husband, Garrison Doles. At one point she writes about John O’Donohue’s short poem:
I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.
“Sweetheart, may we become fluent. May we be wise to the river that is unfolding for each of us. May we be wise to one another. May we find a language in which we can be fluent with one another, even as we find the flow of this new life that we never expected, never wanted to face at this point in our journey.”
―Jan Richardson, Sparrow
May you become fluent with loved ones wherever they are.