Grief Pendulum

March 15, 2012

Those of you who missed the bold declaration I made around my fiftieth birthday last spring may have been wondering about the shift this blog has made from a focus on the transformational power of grief and loss to… other things. Various experiences and insights created the combined catalyst for this: a fight with a reader about my inordinate attachment to my dead daughter; a storm of deaths in our community, provoking an unrelenting crisis mode in my life; and, perhaps most importantly, a new book project that brought me into a lively emerging dialog about the interspiritual quest (God of Love, coming out next month). It felt healthy for me, ten years after losing Jenny, to take a break from death to celebrate life.

As I round the bend on the next birthday, I am finding my life—and this blog—coming back into balance. Slowly, as consciously as I can, I have allowed the sacred work of collective grieving back into my sphere. I answered the recent call to step up and lead our community grief support group on Wednesday evenings (6:00-7:30 at the TeamBuilders office, for you locals). I agreed to teach a Beautiful Wound workshop in May in Durango, where the community has been hit hard this winter by a string of tragic losses. I will be presenting again at the extraordinary MISS conference next fall in Tempe, AZ, for families of children who have died (http://www.missfoundation.org/index.html). And I still sit with the newly bereaved in the fresh fire of loss whenever I can. It’s no longer the center of everything I do and am, though. My friend Ted Wiard affirmed this by noting, “Death doesn’t lead you anymore. It’s an integrated part of your whole journey.”

I could no more easily cut grief and loss from my life than I could change my height or the color of my skin, and I wouldn’t want to. My losses are a vital part of me, and I cherish each one as the embodiment of a love that transcends all boundaries and connects me to the source of Love itself. The bereaved are still among my favorite people to hang out with. Their losses seem to strip them of much of the bullshit that characterizes the human predicament, leaving them with a fierce authenticity and a wicked sense of humor. As one of the members of the support group remarked last night, “Grieving people seem to be smarter than everyone else.”

The other night I went out with a circle of friends who are involved with Golden Willow Retreat, my friend Ted’s extraordinary grief sanctuary here in the mountains of northern Mew Mexico (http://goldenwillowretreat.org/). We were celebrating the birthday of a young woman who came to Golden Willow as a client, and ended up staying to run the place. At one point I looked around, as people were blowing party tooters into each other’s faces and squealing, eating the most amazing Dia de los Muertos-style cake I have ever seen, covered with Mexican knick-knacks, miniature bottles of nail polish and lip gloss, tiny toys and instruments, and thought, “No one in this restaurant would ever suspect that this was a table of people in the grief business–people whose own losses have so profoundly changed them that they have dedicated their lives to being of service to other grieving people.”

How could I give this up? It’s the most sacred thing I know.

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6 Responses to “Grief Pendulum”

  1. Joe Boncek said

    So happy to hear you are finding balance. I am struggling with the same challenge. I’ve been doing hospice work, working in nursing homes and will be starting another grief group in two weeks. At the same time I am staring in front of a big question mark as far as my future goes. Santa Fe hasn’t been too welcoming, I graduate in a month and I have NO inkling of an idea as where to go, or what to do. So there is grief, darkness, yada yada yada. But I’ve been listening to, ironically, lots of Grateful Dead. They’ve kept my heart wide open and my mouth at least 2/3rds in a smile. It has been my offerings of gratitudes each day which keep me afloat. Being a conduit of grace for those who I work with daily has been my standing ground. Even though my personal and professional life are both at a fork in the road, my soul is starting to breathe again–what a blessing.
    Last night I dreamt I met HH the Dali Lama. I was very excited to ask him if should pursue the path of Mahamudra or Dzogchen. He took my hand, smiled, chuckled and said, “You are too young to be thinking of such things. They will come in time. For now focus on trying to have fun partying”.

    So i guess that sums up the work I will be trying to do….

    All my blessings Mirabai!
    ram ram
    Joe Boncek

    • Mirabai said

      Holding you close in my heart as you navigate this netherworld of transition, dear Joe. Thank you for all you do to serve the scary people 🙂

  2. Christine said

    How beautiful, Mirabai. There is a deep wound in me that wants to be addressed and the pain of that wound (that doesn’t have anything to do with the tragic loss of a loved one. It has been with me since childhood). And – at the same time the fires of creativity are being stoked; an excitement for *life* is arising that wants to be expressed. And somehow I know that they are connected – this “pain” and this fire for life.

    And what I hear you saying is that you no longer *define* yourself by your loss or grief – but have opened up to a new space of life that allows for a different movement *through* life, while still honoring that hole in your heart. They both arise together. And possibly it is no longer felt as a “wounding” but an opening into a deeper space of openness to Life; using the wound to take you into a deeper space of Love ? At least that’s how it seems on this end…

  3. Mirabai said

    WordPress is getting all confused, & mixing up my replies. Well, Christine, I am deeply moved by how totally you GET IT, and I thank you for your insightful reflections. Much love

  4. Richard A. Mikovsky said

    Mirabai,

    You are indeed an inspiration. My losses have been, as an engineer would say, “nominal”, but it is time (I am almost 60) that I recognize if not relent to the tug of these losses to play a larger part in defining me, rather than soley on what I possess in the secular sense, which seems less meaningful as each day passes. Well…it is at least something to contemplate. You previous blog on Enlightened Atheists was beautiful. It left me speechless, and I return to it often.

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