So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love. ~E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly
Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone. ~Fred Rogers
You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp. ~Anne Lamott
Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them. ~ Leo Tolstoy
I’ve mentioned before how much I dislike the month of August. Historically it is month filled with death anniversaries (of long-time important pets, people, and a couple long term relationships). I feel extra anxious throughout the month as my body re-experiences the losses of years past and my mind going through another round of processing. August has a heaviness to it for me. It feels oppressive and generally speaking all my “stuff” is really up, front and center, leaving me exhausted at the least and feeling like my life is spinning out of control at the worst.
This past month was no exception to any of this. And to say I am thrilled to be in September is the understatement of the century.
It is also true that this August has also been filled with new found appreciation of this season. Of the heat. The sun. Of those little in-between spaces where I can breathe. Those joyful moments of watching my kids enjoy the sun and water and sand and driftwood; as well as those happy moments of retreating to the shade, eating popsicles or painting on our deck, and cuddling on the couch watching shows together.
This August, the first August in my memory, was filled with both ands.
Truth is all my Augusts were likely filled with lots of both ands. Lots of dark and lots of light. And because of where I was in my life I couldn’t see it all. This is what it is. And it is true several Augusts I was deep in the raw and traumatic grief of recent losses, and so seeing any light in those dark times simply wasn’t possible.
Both experiences, past and most recently last August(s), are true. Both are valid.
It is also true that now we are in September I feel like I breathe better. Like a weight has been lifted. Like all my stuff that has been stirred and swirled up for the past 31 days is settling down and I can get back to being the person I want to be in the world instead in a constant struggle with my own automatic trauma responses and focusing on little else than slowing them down so I don’t damage fragile relationships or even the more stable ones.
I believe we all have times of the year that do this to us, that are filled with anniversaries and or stir up all our “stuff”, our deep woundings, our painful losses. For many this time of year is the holiday season. For some it is summer. For others we have a specific month that just feels like Hell Month. Some experience multiple times during the year that are like this.
In all this stirring, there is grief. Old grief. New layers of old grief. New grief.
Grief is a part of life. Learning to feel, to process, to be in, and to allow it flow… this is our work.
Acknowledging how that grief shows up for us – in our bodies, in my minds, in our moods, in our emotions, the ways we interact with others. Learning to slow down and recognize what is happening, how grief is affecting us and our lives, that is not a simple or easy process. And it can be done.
This is the work of our own unraveling and rebuilding. The work of falling apart and putting ourselves back together. The work of dismantling and creating something new. The work of deep love, and the heartache that we open ourselves up to because of it.
We all have much to grieve. Death, any type of death, is a transition. This is true as much for the person or thing that has died as it is for those of us still left standing. We each experience death within our own lives, within our Self, differently, and still we all experience it. Change, even good change, means the end of something. Every beginning is preceded by an ending.
There is a beauty in grief. It means we loved. We loved deeply.
As we begin our grief work of what could have been, that What If grief I’ve written about before, we find the deep love we have for our Self, our past selves, our current Self, and the Self we are becoming. There can be no grief without love. And that is what makes grief work beautiful, all the love that is a necessary part of the work is revealed.
This essay was originally written for my weekly(ish) newsletter on September 1, 2019. It has been edited for publication here. To receive my most recent essays (and more) you can subscribe to my newsletter here.
In Embodied Writing :: Unspoken Grief, we will spent some time unearthing and embracing all the love we have for our younger Selves, our present self, and our future Selves. If you would like to learn more you can go here. Partial scholarships (of 50%) are available for those who are called to this work but cannot afford it.