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.