Am I Better?

A question often asked mostly by newly bereaved parents.  I stop and pause not always knowing how to answer this question.  First I always want to ask , “What does better look like?”  I imagine each person’s answer would differ. 

Definition of better:

Adjective: partly or fully recovered from illness, injury, or mental stress.

Verb: improve on or surpass

If I personally look at the pure definition of better, than my answer is NO.  How does one fully or partially recover from the death of their loved one? 

Different

I’ve come to answering the question by saying I am different.  Different from the person I was before Ethan died and different from the person I was those years after Ethan died.  And when asked this question at 9 years, I’ll probably be different then too.

Broken-hearted & Full-hearted

While I am broken-hearted I also live a full-hearted life.  I am engaged with many things that I did not have the capacity for in the first few years and yet not ready for other things. Giving specifics doesn’t really matter. Everyone has a different threshold and obligations that either allow us or force us to be engaged in certain areas.

Life will never be as wonderful as it was when Ethan was alive or when your loved one was alive. I have hope for life after.  I feel and see the compassion, love, beauty, kindness and darkness surrounding me. Yes you read that correctly; darkness…it’s in the darkness where I found myself.  My daily tears for various reasons are honored. When those uncomfortable days appear leaving me sobbing and distraught, I pause and bow realizing I cannot change them.

I am always tending to my grief and it affects many of my decisions.  There are times when I can lead with my heart outward and other times I head inward.

We want to rush grief, get “through” it to anything but this pain. I too wanted to rush grief and I tried until I realized it was here to stay.

I deeply appreciate these words

Grief is not something we “get over” by following pre-prescribed stages, but a partner that we dance, play, honor, argue, and weep with as the cycles unfold. Its appearance and the ways it longs to be tended are unique for each psyche, heart, and nervous system.

The timeline for this voyage is not knowable by the psychiatric community, nor by insurance panels or teachers of spirituality. To rush, force, or pathologize the experience of grief is to work against nature.

The grieving process may not have an endpoint or state of completion in which we come to some final resolution, where we “finish” and land in some untouchable place, free from our embodied vulnerability, somatic aliveness, and from falling apart and breaking open yet again.

While some may hold this fantasied end state as a goal which comes about as we “master” life, the heart is not interested in mastery.

The heart itself is endless, and the visitors of grief may companion us in their various forms for a lifetime. Not come to harm, but to reveal a portal into depth. Shifting shapes, circulating, and rotating, as they open and close passageways in the landscape of soul.

Grief is not so much a process that we “make it through,” but a non-linear, unfolding shepherd and emissary of the unknown. It moves not by way of straight line, but by that of circle and spiral.

by Matt Licata

Contemplative Practices

Because of my contemplative practices and exercises, I am emotionally and physically stronger which greatly enhances my ability to carry this enormous loss.

My contemplative practices include meditation, being in nature, yoga, bibliotherapy books and journaling.  My physical exercises include; yoga, strength training, hiking and long walks.  These practices are my medicine and if I go without one for too long, my body and mind begin to weaken

What works for each of us is different. Tell me about what you find supportive for mind and body while deeply grieving.

I offer yoga for grief classes and daylong workshops to support you in finding a path to strengthen your mind and body.

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