Grief is one of the common human experiences that tragically often gets pathologized. Let us consider healthy ways of being with this sort of natural and organic pain. Elaine Mansfield helps us do just that.
Elaine Mansfield is a writer and bereavement educator who has lived on land overlooking the Seneca Lake Valley since 1972. She leads bereavement groups and workshops, and writes for Hospicare and Palliative Care of Tompkins County. Her writing reflects her forty years as a student of Jungian psychology, mythology, meditation and nature. Until 2011, she was a nutrition and exercise counselor. Since her husband’s death in 2008, her work has focused on healing, finding meaning, and creating a new life after loss. Elaine’s book “Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief” was published by Larson Publications in October 2014. The poet Naomi Shihab Nye wrote, “This magnificent, profoundly moving book gives encouragement and solace to all.” Elaine writes a weekly blog about life’s adventures and lessons.
Below I’m cutting and pasting additional links and resources on grief from Beyond Meds.
I would also like to suggest an idea for consideration. Much of what is labeled psychiatric disease is grief that has never been expressed or properly felt, or validated. If we have unexplored trauma, then it’s likely we have unexplored grief too. Some of us need to begin a grieving process that never started in order to heal. Some of us have a life-time of grief that needs to be allowed and experienced. We can choose to challenge our culture’s fear of grief and the dark emotions and begin to heal and turn it around.
Grief is subversive, undermining the quiet agreement to behave and be in control of our emotions. It is an act of protest that declares our refusal to live numb and small. There is something feral about grief, something essentially outside the ordained and sanctioned behaviors of our culture. Because of that, grief is necessary to the vitality of the soul. Contrary to our fears, grief is suffused with life-force. It is riddled with energy, an acknowledgment of the erotic coupling with another soul, whether human, animal, plant or ecosystem. It is not a state of deadness or emotional flatness. Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated. It resists the demands to remain passive and still. We move in jangled, unsettled and riotous ways when grief takes hold of us. It is truly an emotion that rises from soul. – by Francis Weller, from Entering the Healing Ground: Grief, Ritual and the Soul of the World
Grief need not be pathologized even if it takes a long time.
This is a lovely and thoughtful quote by Stephen Jenkinson who has become a source of inspiration.
From a young age we see around us that grief is mostly an affliction, a misery that intrudes into the life we deserve, a rupture of the natural order of things, a trauma that we need coping and management and five stages and twelve steps to get over.
Here’s the revolution: What if grief is a skill, in the same way that love is a skill, something that must be learned and cultivated and taught? What if grief is the natural order of things, a way of loving life anyway? Grief and the love of life are twins, natural human skills that can be learned first by being on the receiving end and feeling worthy of them, later by practicing them when you run short of understanding. In a time like ours, grieving is a subversive act. — Stephen Jenkinson, from Way of Grief