In this post I would like to expand on the connection – or often disconnection – we have with grief, loss, mourning and sadness.
We live in a world where it’s cool and appreciated to be upbeat, positive and happy.
But where do we go, and what do we do in such a world when we are having the blues, feel sad or maybe are actively grieving over a loss?
Maybe the death of a dear person, the loss of a friendship, the end of a particular phase in life or the letting go of an old self-image.
All of those things can and will bring up sadness, grief and the need to mourn over what is no more.
This sadness and the instinct to mourn and grief is actually very healthy and life-affirming.
If something is gone, and it was precious to us, we need to let it go, so that life can continue.
For this we need to mourn, maybe even weep and wail, cry our pain, so that afterwards we can be reborn into a new life.
With some things this can happen in a minute.
You get sad, because your best friend called, and said she can’t go to the concert with you that you have been excited to go to.
You might feel sad for a bit, and then move on.
If the los is a significant ones this process will be deeper and repeat for quite some time, before this natural process of letting go will feel complete.
This is why in traditional societies there were set times, often a year, for mourning over a family member or spouse.
Our modern society is not so friendly anymore to such a natural rhythm.
Where do you go if you are feeling sad or need to have a good cry?
People often tell me that their sadness and their grief is an isolating experience, something they do by themselves, if at all.
I guess it’s another reason why sad movies, melodramatic songs and dramatic stories are always selling. It helps us to get the tears going.
Maybe we have lost sight of the healing power and regenerative quality of grief and sadness.
Grieving over loss actually helps us to mature and develop the human heart, because suffering and loss is a quintessential part of the human experience.
Like with death, nobody will be spared, and we can just learn to develop compassion and empathy by going through it wisely and with the right support.
Also there is tremendous beauty in the pain of weeping, allowing the depth of sadness to become a song, an expression of love and appreciation for that which is no more.
Amazing songs, art and literature have been gifted to us by humans who were transforming their grief into art.
There is a deep wisdom in life which goes for all emotions, and particularly for sadness.
None of these feelings can sustain themselves forever if they are allowed to flow.
All of us have experienced that.
If you really cry over something fully, if you allow yourself to go to the bottom of it, at one point it will change and a new relaxation and space happens.
Something new is being born, if that which is no more is allowed to fully die.
If we give ourselves to the experience totally, it will change.
Yet, sometimes this is really difficult and scary, or it might feel impossible, and we are unable to grieve or shed even a single tear.
We all have our individual history of how we have learned to surrender to grief and mourning, or how we have learned to not pay attention, disconnect and simply move on. This is often the case when the loss was traumatic, came at a young age, or the feelings of being sad or down had been discouraged in upbringing.
But there are also patterns in our collective history that make it difficult to grief in a healthy way.
In the last year I was facilitating two Labs in the Pocket Project (pocketproject.org), which were explorations on the impact of collective trauma in certain regions.
I facilitated a Lab in Austria, and one for the Balkans.
Among many really deep insights in both Labs, I was most struck by the realization how much unprocessed grief is still sitting in all of us, personally and collectively.