My very first training experience in graduate school was working as a bereavement counselor in hospice.
I can still remember the electric feeling of sitting in a room after someone died. The air crackled and my skin was quite hot. There was profound wonder, as I sat with people to help them begin the journey of grieving.
Those moments felt holy, filled with love and truth—spaces where what it is to be human felt like the most divine presence in the room.
We spoke of truth, regrets, longing, fears, heartbreak, letting go, powerlessness, love, inner power, and how to navigate the waters of the unknown inner and outer worlds.
People would ask me all the time if that work was depressing, and I would say no. I felt so alive. It was so powerful to witness so much rebirth happening in the people I could help face difficult loss, along with their own fears of life and death.
We are collectively afraid of dying.
Much of this manufactured matrix that dissociates us from nature disconnects us from death as a part of our nature.
We fear it and have also become so desensitized to it because of media, movies, and all the ways we are exposed to death via laptop, television, and movie screens. We think it’s out there—happening to someone else. That it will not happen to us because we are “good” or doing the “right” things.
No matter how fearless, healthy, positive, high vibrational, or spiritual we are, we will die. No matter how scared we are, we die. It’s a part of our physical human existence.
It’s also a part of our human liminal experience as well.
We can live dissociated from our fear of death, trying to transcend our human experience so much so that our hearts close and we lose compassion and understanding for what is dying around us.
We judge people who are sick, chronically ill, or struggling because we think they are faulty. But, in reality, our fear of death and vulnerability are being projected onto them. And, our shame—what we deem to be unlovable about our humanity, we see in those sick or at the end of life.
Or, we live so deeply in the world of the macabre and shadows that we aren’t fully living our lives because our trauma and “stuckness” in keeping everything the same, keeps us at the beck and call of ghosts of the past. We become servants to the death mother, who wants to pull us into an oppressive comfort and trick us into believing that is what living is.
The natural world embraces death—winter.
There is a naturally built-in part of the cycle of life to be with death, inner and outer. To acknowledge it. To let what needs to die, die. To allow the natural, healing process of grief to move us through into the next phase of ourselves and what life wants to be.
When we are working with a constructed agenda of life, there isn’t much space for the organic unfurling. Or, for any of our mess and grief.
Grieving is like a death process for the living.
It is what heals us.
It is what pulls us unto love and truth and freedom.
It keeps us close to what matters to us the most.
If we hide behind a life that mimics what the constructed matrix tells us is flourishing, we deny our grief to try to make what doesn’t fit, fit—even if we can’t breathe.
This year has been such an intense year of the profound medicine of grief, and of acknowledging our mortality. For, death is truly the only thing that will strip of us of our rights—of our life.
We outgrow our lives all the time.
Flourishing is a pulsing of life, something that evolves as we evolve, expands as we expand—letting go in order to make room for what will come.
Our relationship to the unknown holds a lot of keys to what we haven’t been able to digest.
As does our relationship with grief.
Grief is alive, organic, and much more like a spiral than an experience that follows a linear diagram of stages. It has layers and nuance, hard feelings, and places with opportunity for liberation. We meet ourselves anew.
I have been midwifing people through grief, and notice that regardless of the loss—violent murder, suicide, cancer, old age, overdose, divorce, breaking up, letting go of an era of life, neglectful parenting, loss of parents at an early age, healing addiction or codependency, grieving the past in whatever form we have been holding onto it—there are layers that are common to this experience of grief, just as in healing.
When I share about what I see in the spiral, the layers and nuances, the varied emotions and aspects of other, self, life, love, and Spirit one reckons with, nervous systems relax.
What happens inside the grief experience?
It’s similar to the death process.
What happens when we are navigating multiple layers of grieving at the same time?
This is where we can find ground, identify what is most alive, and know what we need there—at that time. It can bring us into deeper attunement with ourselves, which helps us open more deeply to compassion for others around us, as well as the living, natural world.
We can create ritual to honor the layers, to make prayers to the earth, to learn how to navigate in a way that allows grace to pour in as we navigate the mysterious unknown that is always with us, always holding us, and always supporting us in our highest evolution.
There is much grace to be discovered when we embrace our fear of death and grieving.