Death is big business in the United States.
This separates us from death in profound ways most of us do not realize.
The mess of death. The mess of grief. The mess of being with our loved ones through their death process.
People get three days off to mourn and are expected to go back to work. There is some unspoken understanding that we should “just be over it” after some length of time, and many who find deeper grief waiting for them on the other side of much chaos are left alone.
We deny the importance of grief as a vital component not only to the human experience, but to our well-being and vitality.
The way we treat death, dying, loss, and grief says a lot about our culture and it’s impacting our mental health significantly.
Many of the cultures that we appropriate spirituality from, including rituals and ceremonies, have death rituals and grief teachings as a rich part of their culture and daily lives. It’s not surprising that these places do not have the same mental health concerns that we have in the United States, where addiction, depression, anxiety, and even suicide rates are at an all-time high.
I am sure I don’t have to tell you that this world we live in is not well.
Most of the mental health “issues” we have are diagnoses for reactions to this unwell world, where our grief is denied us and the hunger of our pain for love is fed with toxic mimics of nourishment.
Sometimes, I wonder what the world would be like if instead of diagnosing someone with depression, we said, “I am so sorry you have so much grief you haven’t been able to process.”
Or, if there is anxiety, it seems that you are filled with so much feeling and it doesn’t feel safe to process or hold in your body.
Or if someone is trying to heal from addiction, we see that they have been traumatized and cannot make sense of the grief or pain they feel, and they have been trying to mother themselves the best they could.
Or, if someone struggles with relationships, we understand that they have been touched too much in the wrong ways and that pain is leading them to solve the problem of love without understanding the grief they carry.
Many of the institutions we have are built around a denial of death and grief.
Grief is connected to death, but grief is also a part of our human existence from our transitions, midlife, healing, moving, breakups, recovering our power from codependency and addictions, birthing creative projects into the world, feeling disappointed, big experiences coming to an end, dancing into the unknown, the integration of a large expansion in life with deeper shadows, reclaiming our magic from the shadows and all realms of trauma healing, and so on.
All that we call “grief” is an agent of love in our psyche that helps us to integrate, transmute, heal, and liberate ourselves.
It’s the pain of healing, rather than the pain of suffering we have been causing ourselves.
It helps usher us into wholeness, holding the totality of all that we are through breaking our hearts open to life.
Grief is a living expression of this death process as we humans embody and express it in our lives when we evolve, grow, and change. Grief seems important to integrate in our spirituality.
Grief dissolves the outdated “beliefs” from the depths of our being so that our change and growth is sustainable, reliable, and rooted in the earth.
We are cosmos anchored in the earth through this human form.
Grief is messy and it’s not fun, but it is the magic that brings the transcendence into the radiance in this form via our healing, when we allow our heart-mind to lead the marriage of mind, body, and soul.
We have to resurrect our capacity to grieve, to be with death as a teacher in our lives.
We must normalize the experience of grief to free up this current of pain in the world so that we can heal.
Grief returns us to love.
It returns us to the ground of the earth that holds us stable and nourishes us and nurtures us in the deepest of our transformations. Grief heals our hearts back open into the center of our own aliveness, where we realize we are an extension of her.
It’s vital to reclaim this in our lives, to understand the spiral nature of grief, and cultivate practices to honor it as a part of our lives.
We will be entering a world that is forever changed.
And before we jump to rebuilding and new, which is a U.S. cultural obsession, we must first grieve what is dying, not only inside the world, but within us.