Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December 31-The Seventh Holy Night - The Need for Grief

We need grief, the little griefs, the medium griefs, and the great big griefs of life.

The great big griefs, the tsunamis of the soul, are not the griefs I want to explore in this message, although what is necessary about grief is true for griefs of all intensities.

I write about the small daily occurrences of grief - the forgotten appointments, the misunderstandings, the altered plans, the missed opportunities, the coulda’s, woulda’s, shoulda’s and the “if only’s”. These are all losses that we cannot retrieve. They are all little griefs. These minor sufferings cause us minor shock, minor anger, minor disorientation, minor reorganization, even minor loss of identity and connection. All these are aspects of grieving.

Rarely are we taught about grieving and its importance. It would be wonderful if as small children we were taught simple grieving rituals. I still feel grief over some events in my childhood. I let go of a balloon and it floated away. I lost a beloved cat on a family vacation. I lost a necklace that my godmother gave me. I lost a best friend when I was suddenly moved from my father’s home in Brooklyn to my mother’s home in Florida and never got to say goodbye and write down her address. My heart still aches because no one encouraged me to grieve. No one explained to me all my feelings were grief. No one suggested I create and follow a ritual that would allow me to revere my loss.

Everyday we experience loss and, instead of grieving, ignore or diminish our feelings. There is nothing foolish about grieving small losses. Yet, we feel foolish and cover up our truth with dysfunctional thoughts, feelings and behaviors. When I was sent to Florida, I was happily reunited with my little sister, but I fought horribly with my sister for months in my ignored state of grief. Even now, I can be irritable, sad or exhausted in the evening of a day when I misplaced something dear or a client missed an appointment - unacknowledged loss and ignored grief over something small.

A healthy soul grieves consciously. Tonight, the last night of 2008, honor your little losses over the last 365 days. Grieve sweetly and deeply. Imagine a grieving ritual for your little losses. If each night before you fell asleep you thought about the day’s losses, felt your grief, perhaps, journaled for five or ten minutes, your soul would awake the next morning more bright and open. Once a week, a month, a season, a year celebrate your losses. Embrace your grieving over little losses.

Grief resolves loss. Grief makes us ask deep questions. Grief allows us to find new meanings, new purposes, and new significances. Grief gives our hearts strength. Grief purifies corruptions and heals wounds. Grief points us in new directions. Grief liberates.

Grieving is the necessary response to loss. By responding to the loss we become responsible. Being responsible to losses removes the perception that we are victims. Life is seen as a ongoing cycle of which grieving is the ending of one cycle and the beginning of the next one.

Teach yourself to grieve everyday. Talk about little losses with your good friends. Especially, bring the meaning and process of grieving little losses to little children, particularly when they’ve let go of a balloon and watched it float away from their reach.

Then when you find yourself in the force of a great grieving tsunamis, your soul is strong and pliant. You will not drown.


Because of the economic crisis, many of us will lose aspects of our material existence to which we are attached. We will need to grieve our losses. Beyond the practical adjustments, let your soul attend to the grief in a sacred way. Honor the experience appropriately.


  1. I could never have articulated that as well as you have so beautifuly. Thank you for suggesting grieving as a New Years meditation, I will take you up on it!

  2. Even in your chaos there is love
    A gentleness in your heart that doesn’t harden against you
    There is an ebb and flow of nurturing order
    And relinquishing to the needs of emotion and destruction
    Out of the chaos, through the hard cold earth, new life is born
    There is a softness in your tenderness, though it comes from great rage, pain and despair
    Underneath there lies a grief for all that was and might have been
    I love you and the love touches like tears on the earth,
    We are One
    A child lives in you and her magic will live forever
    The dance of her love and the depth of the pain
    They are One
    And the child she loves you, returning her smile
    Is the spirit of wisdom
    A soul living a thousand lifetimes and girl and woman and man and boy are One
    In the dark shadow of wishing yourself dead
    Remember it is your grief that longs to be buried in the earth
    Grief like the cold shock of winter waves will crash and pass
    And the sea one day will be calm and still
    In the intensity of your grief is the poignancy of love precious and deep
    Do not lose it to the shore, but feel the wave, though it feels like death passing through you
    By it you will know the power of your love
    Standing alone in your loneliness I will be with you
    You will know at last the freedom to be yourself and travel the greater sea,
    And God will not deny you, nor his love deceive you
    Trust in the peace of your soul and the love of mother earth

  3. I would like to let go of my grieving...let the string go and watch it float up into the sky....but i know in my grown up way that in the nature of life..as changes and people and things ebb and flow...this grieving will return like the wind.....it is inevitable. The bitter sweetness of grieving is never the same, always unwelcomed, this dark emotion swirls around, for one never gets used to inviiting it in. It is sometimes like a guest that stays too long after the holiday, or like just a bit too much salt on the fish that keeps one thirsty.

    I think the opposite side of grieving is love ....for loving and letting is the trigger and release of cycle. Like breath, it is part of the colors of life, the salt to the pepper, the bitter to the sweet, the memory of what was, to what is. And just because it is not...doesnt mean it should not be forever...grieve and let live.

  4. Oh, too true! It's the little griefs, unacknowledged, that nibble us to death like gnats....thank you so much for this!

  5. dear Lynn,

    thank you for the first 7 nights of needs, they all enter my heart easily, as both new and known forever. In Dutch there is this beautiful old word 'loutering', which means purifying, refining, chastening (according to my dictionary), which is what grief in my experience does. Although it is not easy to just sit down with the aching of, in my case, a broken relationship, it is most beautiful and strengthening at the same time to discover that in spite of the loss I am still here, alive. Also I feel that in this allowing of pain, without any idea of what to do about it, God seems to be nearer than ever.

    thank you for bringing this experience into memory and suggesting to kindly 'act' the same way with the small losses of every day life. this is all about being strong by allowing myself to be weak.

  6. it is natural to release, allowing yourself to release becomes un-natural when you suppress the emotions,,thank-you for suggesting grief, I lost my lover this year, yet I know that Love is eternal, even though his form has passed I still feel him, for love is never lost..beyond the realm of losses and gains things just are...when I accept I am free

  7. Take time to grieve. Grieving is a necessary act of being human.
    I lost three friends this year and I will light three candles tonight, meditate and honor them in this way.

  8. My family has adopted a Hispanic tradition of creating Senior Ano Viejo, a figure stuffed with paper. (although in some places in Mexico he is stuffed with fireworks!)We pin messages to Senior and burn him at midnight on New Year's Eve--releasing all the griefs and hurts of the past year in preparation of renewal and a joyous bringing in of the New Year on a clean slate.

  9. A wise friend once told me to grieve every day using the five stages of the grieving process (denial, bargaining, depression, anger, acceptance) for even the seemingly smallest of griefs. As an example, three days ago I couldn't find a glove. I refused to believe that I had lost it (denial) and kept looking for it. Then I began the process of telling myself what I could have done to prevent losing it (bargaining) and promising myself I would be more careful in the future. Next I felt sad for the loss and then angry.I had gone an entire year without losing a glove and I had felt a sense of pride about that! Finally I accepted that it was gone, forgave myself and let go of the guilt. I did not go through this process consciously articulating the steps I was moving through but looking back I can identify them. The point is to get to the acceptance stage by allowing the feelings associated with the loss to occur. Pushing the feelings aside with the thought that "it doesn't matter" is not grieving and the feelings will come back to haunt in some way.

    Kahil Gibran speaks of Joy and Sorrow. Each experience of sorrow creates a space for greater joy. Imagine the joy I felt the next day when I found my glove in the pocket of a jacket I had overlooked! SCS

  10. I am now living in a state of grace after experiencing a goodly dose of our national economic downturn. My life is being tumbled and remodeled as I "lose my feet and my red shoes" and undeniably discover and learn to honor a new level of my deeper self. As it was while I attended my mother's transition from this world some eight years ago, I find myself releasing what has been while simultaneously standing in the grieving shadows of letting go, in the exuberant light of new beginnings. I am at the equator of yet another loop on this spiral of Life. Looking forward and wishing all kindness and ease in 2009, Happy New Year.

  11. Grief can be a Holy encounter with oneself. If we don't face grief, it finds a place to lodge in our physical body as pain. I have spent my whole life trying to avoid grief instead of embracing it as a normal experience and one that is very necessary for wholeness. Thankk you for leading the way for me. Shelby

  12. I will try to take this on.I lost my mother November 21st.Some days I cannot breathe from my grief....I feel Spirit really wanted me to have this messege for New Years Eve...Thank You

  13. I am holding a deep appreciation and awe for you loving spirits who have all expressed yourselves in such profound poetic truth. Thanks to Lynn and all of you "sharers"
    Blessings and flowing love.

  14. There are three events that I can go to tonight or I can stay at home and build a fire and experience the grief of the losses of the last two years: my husband of 37 years- two years ago, one of my best friends and playmates - a year ago, my older brother two months ago, my aunt one month ago and today my uncle, her brother.
    I don't know if I can crack open enough to hold all this grief. These are the tsunamis. I may need to be with others to help me hold this.
    Thank you for the reminder of what tonight is.

  15. Lynn,
    Before I read your message for tonight, I reviewed the past year and saw how the loss of loved ones (friends and animal companions) has overshadowed my life these past 12 months. How ironic that tonight's message is about grieving.

  16. A long casting shadow spreads over my canvas of reflection.
    The bay is apparently smooth yet the mist wets my binoculars, vague picture.
    I want to see, really I do!
    I want to spill all my truth and ache that I feel my arteries have somehow mastered a mask, an armor from my heart to my throat.
    my soul to my toes.
    A sheen sheet of water where ducks sail effortlessly, yet always some how knowing that freedom is the most serene wonder before one might allow a bullet, from a trigger, by an unknown finger might take you down, pluck your golden feathers and cook you in a recipe and serve you on a beautifully adorned platter and eat you, hopefully into love.
    Today I did see my tears fall with the wings of the fowl in that reflection as above so below wonder
    I did feel the grief in my tomb of skin
    I did see the lights of eternity drift thru the air and
    am I was amazed.

  17. A long casting shadow spreads over my canvas of reflection.
    The bay is apparently smooth yet the mist wets my binoculars, vague picture.
    I want to see, really I do!
    I want to spill all my truth and ache that I feel my arteries have somehow mastered a mask, an armor from my heart to my throat.
    my soul to my toes.
    A sheen sheet of water where ducks sail effortlessly, yet always some how knowing that freedom is the most serene wonder before one might allow a bullet, from a trigger, by an unknown finger might take you down, pluck your golden feathers and cook you in a recipe and serve you on a beautifully adorned platter and eat you, hopefully into love.
    Today I did see my tears fall with the wings of the fowl in that reflection as above so below in wonder.
    I did feel the grief in my tomb like skin
    I did see the lights of eternity drift thru the air and
    I was amazed.
    Yet I am not done. grief is more that I am so far able to overcome. Yet by what I have seen this day I am thankful I can empty out.

  18. Open fully. Resist nothing. Only then, will grief flow through you, transform you, and flow on. It's very scary. You will survive it. "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong in the broken places." --Hemingway

  19. Dear All,

    A problem with grieving might be that people think they are grieving but they actually aren’t. That is they are stuck in one of five stages of the grieving process (denial, bargaining, depression, anger, acceptance) that someone else describes in this blog. As far as I can see, the five stages are not like a ruler on which the next number follows on the previous one. It seems to me that in the beginning of a mourning process people are more in the first stages and at the end of the process people are more in the last stages. However people might flip-flop from one end of the grieving-ruler to the other end.

    What I see in my world is that, if people are stuck, people are most often stuck in denial or anger (and probably even might become depressed by becoming exhausted by being stuck in these stages). I would like to reflect on anger because denial has already been discussed. Might be anger is a special form of denial itself. Anger has often the form of blaming the outside world (or yourself in the form: if I hadn’t, than….). People might think they are grieving by shedding cold, not experienced not lived through blaming tears instead of weeping warm, experienced tears, experiencing how things are. People might even be enforced in shedding cold angery tears by people around them: “you are showing your emotions, this is good in a mourning process” or even less altruistic: I like some news (and people focus often on bad in stead of good news). This, in my opinion, might not be good. I think this not only holds the grieving process but might even add problems (increasing pain in the person but also disturbing interaction or even relationships with others). I fully agree with Lynn experiencing is of utmost importance. I stress experiencing in the whole of your being, not only with cold angry tears because this is not experiencing in the whole of your being. A simple test whether the tears (it does not matter wether they are external or internal) are cold or lived through might be how you feel during and after crying/experiencing the grieving. Warm tears, I think, are more likely to make you feel more relaxed, less tense than cold tears.


  20. It was a wonderful experience to overview my losses of 2008, the small griefs and the bigger ones. Then count my Blessings.
    In this way I was making room to receive the messages for 2009.
    Angel helpers point me the way; Sahaqiel/Alphun tell me to strive for my highest desire, Anahita tells me to study medical plants. The keyword between the golden angel and the silver angel is grounding.
    The Highpriest is my Tarot card for this year.

    So this will be a great and blessed year!

    Best wishes to all!


  21. Speaking as a man, it's not just that we're not taught how to grieve, we are taught quite intensely, through machismo and shame, not to display any signs of grief for any reason, which would be seen as a sign of weakness. And the "easiest" way to do that is to shut down the feelings, numb the pain with a drink or a drug or... How much addiction is un-expressed grief? Counselors know.

    When a lifetime of big and little griefs pile up, releasing them takes a lot of work, and when the logjam breaks loose, might as well be a tsunami. Yet it would be a mistake to characterize grief-work as only a remedy for the past, because it now serves as vital preparation for the future.

    We will need the strength it imparts to heal the tsunami of our very identities, as the ecomonic crisis grows into collapse. Because we all share the life of energy addiction, for which collapse is simply our "bottoming out" experience. Every addiction is a spiritual crisis, whether individual or societal.

    Our mutual recovery will result in a more sustainable way of life, and grief-work is an essential key to hospice the dying of our consumptive ways, which has already begun.

    My work is to transform the fear of this process by remembering that collapse is simply a "falling inward". I strive for healthy grieving and stretch to comprehend and acknowledge the depth of loss.

    Grief done well imparts resiliency: "my soul is strong and pliant". I will not drown, and I'm not the only one in the water. We'll all be abandoning the same sinking ship eventually, and I need to be strong enough to help others get to solid ground as well.

    I'm reminded of a line from a Ferron song:
    "...I take my cue from the willow tree
    who will not break from just one storm,
    but bends with a strength that keeps it free."

  22. A daily meditation, from the Michael meditations, that can address daily griefs (large and small):


    I send my sorrows
    into the setting sun
    Place all my worries
    into her radiating womb
    Purified in love
    Transformed in light
    They return to me
    as helpful thoughts
    As strength
    for self-sacrificing deeds

  23. It is quite wonderful to me that this message came on my birthday (even though I didn't read it till later). The power of tears is one of life's wonders to me. I have recently come through a somewhat down time and opened again to the tears that bring release and joy. I found a great deal of wisdom in the long post above that talked of warm tears and cold tears. I make another comparison, of releasing tears and stuck tears. Sometimes, especially in periods of depression, I may feel teary a lot but the tears never release into the healing space that releasing tears bring me. The releasing tears are usually much more full-body than the stuck kind.
    A wise woman I know recently gave me the insight that children who are being asked to "grow up" by taking on more responsibilities (new chores, etc.) go through the stages of grieving as well. "What do you mean I have to set the table? No way!" In the case of my grandson, hours of bargaining and arguing his case. ("None of my friends have to do that!") Certainly anger! ("No way I'm following your dumb rules! You're the worst parent in the world!") Grumpy depression ("Life sucks.") And at least sometimes, eventuall acceptance, cheerfully doing the task. It helped my sometimes impatience with my grandson's resistance to think of it in these terms.
    I am also grateful to and for the man who wrote of the ways men are taught not to grieve. I am grateful that there are men who are working to undo this life-denying message. We women do the best we can, with our mates and sons and grandsons, but I think it's crucially important for boys and men to get the message from other men, and for men to bring that openness to each other. Bless you.