Grief’s Beauty – L. Samsarah Morgan
Recently, I attended a family baby shower. It was a glorious day. The parents-to-be were adorable young people expecting their first child. The pregnant mom was glowing, her husband handsome and proud. Both of them basked in the adoration of their family as they received gifts and well wishes. Also present at the shower was my Aunt-in-law, who had recently lost her long-time partner. She was quiet and gracious, but I noticed a heaviness surrounding her as she fussed over the parents-to-be. At one point in the day all of the women were relaxing together. Gifts had been opened and cooed over. We settled in to talk about the matters of women – our children mtheir births and our husbands. I noticed that my Aunt’s face became flushed-her eyes gently filled with tears.
There in that room was all of love: birth and death. Joy and sorrow. It moved me more than I have words to express here. I wondered what brought those tears to her eyes? Was she missing her Beloved? Was she wishing that he could be here to share this lovely day? I took a deep breath and asked if she was alright. She nodded and her tear flowed a bit more. She apologized for her tears and said she didn’t know why she was crying just then – she seemed a bit upset with herself and said “I was doing so much better until just then”. I remember tentatively asking her to share how she was feeling but I sensed that she felt that her tears were an intrusion upon the shower. Others echoed their concern and love for her, I believe that she became uncomfortable with our attention – and gradually the conversation drifted on to other matters.
Left to my own devices, I would have asked my Aunt more questions and encouraged those tears. But I opted to respect my Aunt’s apparent discomfort; knowing that women of her generation sometimes believe that grief ought to be a private affair. I wanted to respect her dignity so silently I sent all the love in my heart to her. I remembered a time in my own past – a moment of early grief which I’d experienced. And I remember the feeling that if I really let loose and cried that I would never stop, those time were before I’d begun a conscious spiritual journey where I was able to find friends who would insist, and in fact create a space for me where I could wail to my heart’s content within the sacred circle of their arms. Some events are just too big to carry alone, I believe, that one of the ways we grow as people is by witnessing the authentic feelings of others. We grow even more when we are able to be compassionate witnesses, offering support without judging another’s experience.
When we are able to this, we see that joy is no better than grief. Grief does not take away from joy: both can be shouted out loud and we, as compassionate witnesses, do not turn our backs on those who grieve to shower attention upon those in joy. Haven’t you ever shed tears of joy? Laughed till you cried/ both states come from the same place deep within our souls. It is a blessing to have loved well enough to grief. And there is beauty and strength for those who allow themselves this process. Our tears contain chemicals which help normalize brain chemistry. Tears help us heal. They are as vital and empowering as a good, deep laugh.
How sad I feel for those who medicate, over eat or indulge in other possible harmful behaviors to avoid the gift of being fully present – even to grief.
For those of you who may be experiencing grief today – please know that God is with you, and that that God of your understanding, knows the yearnings of your heart. I urge you to seek a compassionate witness to midwife your journey though the stages of grief. For some that may be a clergy person, or therapist. For some good friends are the way. For some all of the about are needed to chart ones path through grief.
Some of you may be holding on to the pain of events that happened a long time ago. I want you know that this need not be a burden which you must ignore or indulge in addictive patterns of behavior in order to avoid. We need not fear grief nor run away from it. With support you will see that grief has its stages and that it is important that you give yourself fully to each one, there is no set time when you should be ‘over it’. That’s between you and God. Please don’t let others who may feel overwhelmed by the strength of your emotions, judge you.
When I was 20, a drunk driver struck and killed my brother who was 15. I have grieved my sweet brother every year since then. The process started out as one of unbearable torment. It is now a tender, sad, and yes, joyful feeling which helps me never forget the smart, witty, loving and sensitive young man my brother was. I never want to forget him and now that gently tug at my heart, that I feel on his birthday, is my friend.
I also understand that our departed loved ones are never far from us. Nothing ever truly dies. I know that when I call my beloved dead in prayer and meditation, they hear me. I have felt my Grandmother’s loving touch and heard her words of advice long after we cried for her and laid her physical body to rest. My grief is about missing those dear ones on a physical plane. It’s also about my fear of change, for in spirit they did not die – they
continue to live on in God’s mind and as such we are indestructible. I hope that when my passing occurs, that my children and loved ones are comforted by the thought of my blissful return to the force which created me. I pray that this thought will comfort them.
By the way, our expectant mom and dad had a beautiful baby boy. And my dear Aunt is devoting herself to the care of her elderly uncle. When I last saw her, she looked well and happy. There is such preciousness to our humanity. I pray that we all give ourselves the opportunity to experience all our human feelings, they are, I believe a gift from God to us – and as such they are “all good”.
This article is dedicated to the family of Trayvone Martin, and all families who are grieving the loss of a precious member of their family. May you be comforted and strengthened now it the evening of your grief – and may you find your joy come the morning.