Today and for days to come... I am raw and grieving the loss of my beloved friend Leon. As I process this very complicated… yet very simple grief, I realize I’ve known him far longer, than I have not known him. Grieving and trying to be productive at work is a dance. I try to avoid the pain… I dance away from it... I don’t want to be a basket case there. Some of my colleagues have a “there is no crying at work” mantra. I have no such illusions, see the box of Kleenex on my desk as evidence. Although Leon and I are not “see each other all the time” friends, we are, “pick up where we left off as if no time had passed” friends. We are "no matter how our lives twist and turn, the essentials of love and friendship remain unchanged" friends. Our daughters grew up as fast friends. Leon’s wife, Lena, was my dear, close friend. Lena was, in fact the inspiration for the name of this blog (see inaugural post in 2009). She passed… way too young in the late 80’s. That decades old loss still has its own unique burning hurt. When their daughter Melissa came to be married, she asked me to sit with Leon at the wedding, and help with the giving away, in her Mother’s place. I was honoured to show up for her like that... deeply honoured. So no, there is no avoiding this pain, there just isn’t.
Many folks engaged in grief work, from pastors, other spiritual advisors, to therapists and other grief workers suggest that we shouldn't try to avoid the pain we feel at such a loss, but instead should sit with the pain when it washes over us, and truly feel it. Its about keeping company with the pain, while moving forward when we are able. In conversation with one of my most close and compassionate friends, he has likened it to holding a screaming baby, while needing to attend to other things. "Yes baby... I know... Shhh Shhh" *pat*pat* [go switch the laundry with squawling baby on our hip]. Take a moment, sit in the rocker "its all right baby... there there... I know" [oh crap there's the doorbell] and on and on it goes, being present with our pain, holding it, feeling it, talking it to it, acknowledging it, as we do what we must. When we do that, we can approach pain and loss from a place of mindfulness, a space where honouring those moments and holding the pain is what is most important.
Those moments of mindfulness and authenticity can be strung together to form a path to a sense of peace and well being… as we consciously connect with the wordless Truth at the center of all that is. This takes time… this takes intentional space giving… this takes breathing and sometimes following the breathcrumbs left for us by loving others when we feel too tight to breathe freely on our own. Some days... we just don't have it in us to be and do all of that. Some days it's all we can do to breathe, and on THOSE days, taking three deep breaths, can be a blessed miracle.
But I think this is what happens when we invest in being in authentic relationship with others, when we love fiercely and live fully. I know folks who spend a lot of resources shielding themselves from pain, by building walls, keeping distance, and investing minimally or not at all. I believe that this diminishes our Earthly experience, at least it would for me. I for one, am not willing to trade living fully and loving fiercely for a diminished life. The pain, can be immeasurable, but so can the wonder, and the joy of being in relationship, and sharing authentic connection.
The heart that has been broken wide open by life, has enormous capacity for love. That seems to make no sense - but trust me - it totally does! The pain that devastates us through grief and loss, proves that our heart still has immense capacity to feel, that the lotus within us still blooms and thrives in its exotic beauty. The pain is proof that our spirit of compassion hasn't disconnected, seized up, and rusted over. It proves that we are still limber, still connected, and still willing to risk it... all over again.
Probably the only time I will sign a post this way:
Peace Out ~ Lynner ~