“I don’t know” is an answer I get a lot in my work as a therapist.
There are no right or wrong answers that cast spells on grief and loss and make them disappear from our lives.
If only it were that easy.
“I don’t know” is a great jumping off point, an answer, an admission, exposing us to the bigger picture.
If we open up, we get freed up, too.
We are free to explore why we’re stuck and how we got that way. Refusing to acknowledge a loss can impair our spiritual growth and alter our emotional stability.
“I don’t know,” when spoken aloud, nudges us in new directions. If we give ourselves permission to heal, to stop blaming ourselves, we direct our landing to a reasonable reality, one worth keeping.
Not knowing is knowing.
Not knowing is an invitation to deeper understanding, just as much as it is a leverage for opportunity. Not knowing says, “Just be.”
Quieting the mind is a practice. Practice is an action. Practice is a repeatable motion that demands us to show up in our finest, prepared, ready to learn and ready to be challenged.
The adage that “practice makes perfect” is harsh. What if we wrote and repeated a new mantra?
Practice makes Progress.
Like meditation, yoga or prayer, the practice of not knowing operates from a stance that the practice is not the product. It is only the process.
The process is the product and the practice!
Sitting still to quiet my mind, I accept that thoughts fly in. My acknowledgement is that thoughts fly in. I am not obligated to let them crash on my couch or rent a room.
I have a choice. I free the thoughts, release them, little birds flying on out my window, over my head. I refuse to let them build nests in my hair.
I’ve watched clips of balloon releases on local TV newscasts. You know the children we meet along the way who learn about loss far too early? I watch them tighten their grips around ribbons tied to helium balloons.
The balloons often contain written messages to their lost loved ones. Balloons can do their thing if we let go of them.
Grief overstays if we let it. We are the weights preventing grief to be swept up by the wind and shoot through the atmosphere and break apart in the ether.
I was driving the other day when grief hit me hard. I missed my best friend. The way everything ended seemed so ridiculous. I still don’t understand. I still don’t know what happened.
I could feel the weight of 10,000 elephants on my chest, a crowd of old voices poised to punch me in the gut. I had the physical sensation of choking, of vomiting. I am still wrestling to let it all go. I want to heal, but I don’t know how.
My daughter, in her infinite love of “Frozen,” was singing in her purest voice. She was riding along, strapped into the back seat, facing the back window of my Mom-Mobile.
On days when I have too many errands, I rely on the “Frozen” soundtrack to keep her calm through the transitions, all of the getting in and getting back out.
Hearing her sweet voice, untainted by the hard lessons of life, I resonated with the moment, with the present moment, not the past where I am left hurting, not the future where I am afraid of going.
She couldn’t see the silent tears seeping from my eyes. My voice, bone tired, and aching, made stupid attempts to join her. She pummeled through, “Let it gooooooo! Let it gooooooo!”
I grinned to myself, a little wiser, a little lighter.
Grief and loss are not to be understood in this life. Not completely, anyway. I think it’s harder for us than for those who go before us. We’re left inside their empty outlines, unfinished sidewalk paintings drawn in pastel chalk and incomplete.
Is it our legacy to join with theirs, to fill in the colors, add definition and expand their perimeters? Rain is on standby, certain to wash everything away at any random moment. I see the clouds hovering like angry gods threatening to destroy what I am desperate to make last.
The dead go there, while we stay here. We see their things, touch their clothes, inhale their scents that linger in rooms. Tangible connection becomes obsolete and impossible, and that makes me restless.
People are being born and dying all around us in this breath. I know that people will leave me because they already have. I am doing all that I can to quiet my mind and just be in the moment.
This is all I know about how to heal: what I don’t know.
Author: Monica Stevens-Kirby
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography at Flickr