We All Have A Need to Grieve

I was SUPPOSED to be formatting my book, Finding Ahimsa but I can’t. My heart is aching and I need to write. 

I just finished talking to Suzanne Jabour, grief educator, from A Lived Experience, about creating a MetaMentoring podcast on grieving. Just talking about grief brought me crashing back into my own. Grief is kind of like that, isn’t it? 

Grieving is considered a need in NVC. Just as we have needs for food, safety, to matter, to contribute (and the list goes on), we also have a need to grieve. Like any need, it can suddenly appear, seemingly without warning. Like all the needs, grief is universally felt through our lives, it is a part of living, and just like all of the needs, how we feel it emotionally and experience it in our lives utterly/exquisitely unique.

There are so many things that could ignite a need to grieve. Loss of any kind, whether it’s expected or not, is loss; losing of a job, a loved one dying, separation and divorce, life altering disease, loss of a lifestyle, what else? Also, it’s like there is the “big loss” and then there are all of the related losses that come with it. With my grief, it’s like each loss wishes to be explored in isolation and within the context of the other pieces. 

In our pre interview call, Suzanne and I talked about lots of things related to grief. There was so much to talk about! I felt genuinely excited to record our conversation for the podcast! However, after ending our call, I felt it immediately. It was like my need to grieve was waiting for a signal that it could safely step forward again and connecting to Suzanne to plan the recording about grief was the invitation. You see, Suzanne speaks openly about grieving processes and paradigms that need to shift. I think my grief heard itself echoed in her experiences and work and wanted me to stay there for a moment longer. It wanted me to go slow and see the pieces again. So I did. 

These are the parts it wanted me to see, remember, and validate;

-I wanted to grieve the loneliness of being isolated and sick. And while I am walking around in the world again, the loneliness hasn’t quite left. It wasn’t just being sick, it was also the pain of seeing who was able to ride out my pain with me and who wasn’t. Suzanne talked about people scattering away when a person needs to grieve deeply and my grief wanted me to acknowledge that was part of my experience too. Suzanne, said this is often the most prevalent experience of grieving people in our culture – the loneliness. My experience of getting sick and healing was so much lonelier than I ever would have guessed it would be. 

-I wanted to grieve the loss of my bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, “anything is possible” mindset. I still remember what it was like “before” getting sick. There was so much I didn’t think about. I remember how I used to “just be normal” and I can’t figure out how to do that anymore. Even today, it feels like the world is moving so quickly and I feel so slow in it. For a very long time, I worried I would never figure out how to rejoin the world around me. I want to say, “I felt forgotten by the world” but that’s actually a judgement. In NVC, we can’t “feel forgotten” without interpreting the actions of others, so it’s not a real feeling. It’s a pseudo feeling. If I were to reword this into NVC I might say “I felt sad and lonely and vulnerable. I longed to be included again.” I’m figuring out how to do be in the world again, as who I am now, but I can never go back to who I was before. And I miss her.

-My grief wanted me to remember the feeling of holding the pieces of my life and not knowing how to put them back together. (And wondering if they ever truly fit together in the first place? And wondering if anyone else is realizing the pieces don’t fit and we’re all just going too fast to notice?) I don’t know why my grief wanted me to spend time in this thought, but I acknowledged it. I held it with care.

-My grief wanted me to remember the nights that I would wake up to just to feel all the things I couldn’t access in the daytime. Feeling it at night felt gentler somehow. 

-My grief wanted me to acknowledge that I’ll never “move on”, I’ll always be on the verge of this. And that is not a bad thing – to be able to access this kind of feeling so deeply, so easily. But I need to be aware. I truly thought I was OK to have this pre-interview call with Suzanne and that I could “go back to work” right after. Suzanne works with organizations on their grief policies for employees and she mentioned this aloud in our conversation. My grief wanted me to have more self-awareness. I think when another person expresses their grief, it might remind us of our own need to grieve. We don’t exactly live in a culture that respectfully creates space for grieving needs, and if we aren’t aware of our need to grieve, it can crash into our lives unexpectedly. Actually, it can still crash into our lives unexpectedly…but self-awareness is still helpful.

Now here I am 24 hours later and after holding my grief with care, I am ready to put my heart into things again. I want to acknowledge that *FOR 24 HOURS, I WAS NOT READY TO PUT MY HEART INTO THINGS* and sometimes that wish to protect my heart lasts longer.

I am reminded of a conference I attended years ago about alternative education. One of the workshop speakers talked about his time in alternative education and how rewarding it was to have that kind of depth with the young people at the self-directed education program where he worked. Unfortunately, his son passed away tragically and he was unable to do any work that required vulnerability or depth from him. He returned to the public system to work as a school principal for many years until he felt he could handle “showing up” with depth again. At the time, I was a public school teacher and his experience didn’t make sense to me, so I held on to his story. Now that I have worked in various roles that required me to show up with realness and depth, I understand his story better. Sometimes you need to protect your heart and give it time to grieve.

This is part of NVC by the way, processing your feelings, including grief, so you have space to take in new ideas with openness and connect with people again. Hopefully in writing this post today, I’ve gotten enough “out” so that I can be curious and connect with Suzanne when I record with her. 

Don’t get me wrong! I’m thankful to be invited back into grieving again but, I also acknowledge that grieving take a lot of energy and time. I am looking forward to my interview with Suzanne AND I’m going to remember I’ll likely need to cocoon a bit after. I might need to clear my calendar. 

Best wishes to all of those people grieving right now. xo


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