Melissa Allen


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Grief and Grieving

Welcome to today’s dose of wisdom.
Today we are talking about:

Grief and Grieving

So this week is a tender one for me. It is the week of the first anniversary of my beloved mum’s death. It feels like a potent time to talk about this topic.

Our modern culture is typically pretty bad at grief. We are mostly pretty terrible at it. For some people it’s almost like grief is contagious and we find it hard to be around in others. For ourselves we can be fearful of it, like it will swallow us up.
For some people the same thing is the case with death. In our culture we don’t really deal with the end of life until we are faced with the end of life. Many just don’t know what to do in those moments to support each other well.

Prior to experiencing this significant loss this year, I hadn’t imagined how I could survive this level of loss. Despite that, here I am, a year on – I made it.
I guess I want to share this week that contrary to what we may think, we DO survive huge feelings. Even when they can feel insurmountable. The human spirit is tenacious and strong even when we don’t feel tenacious and strong.

I remember I asked my mum once during the months before her death “Mum, how will I survive without you?”   And she turned to me and said “you know what, you just do. Some days you will feel like shit and other days will feel easier and you will just keep moving. Life will keep moving.”
Annoyingly she was right.
Even when we feel like our heart is broken or we feel completely disorientated and lost, Life indeed keeps moving. It feels weird, but it’s true.

In my experience this year, befriending the grief process I have had a memorial candle burning all year for my mum in my house. Each candle stays lit for 9 days before I have to transfer the flame. It is a ritual I have come to cherish. Rituals are so valuable yet so lost in our modern culture.
Seeing the candle burning in my home reminds me naturally of my mum. It also symbolizes something for me too – Like there is a part of me that grieves her and holds the death of her in mind and that part is living alongside the part of me that keeps going with the day. One part that is still & silent while another moves about the house, doing daily tasks of living. Getting to know and befriend all the parts helps to integrate big experiences. Not needing to do anything with them, just get to know them.

In my experience this year I have taken advice from an old children’s book from my childhood called Going on a Bear Hunt. Of all the books I have read about grief and grieving, it sums up the process best (even though it is not actually a book about grief!): 

“You can’t go under it, you can’t go over it, you have to go through it!” 

and that is what I have done this year!
We can’t collapse underneath it for too long and we can’t go over the top of it and pretend it’s not there. We have to move through it.
The other great book that I have leaned into is called Tear Soup which is a fabulous book for adults and children that explains grief beautifully. Basically, we go along with our day but every now and then we have to go into the kitchen and make our tear soup. Sometimes it takes a long time and lots of ingredients but once we have finished cooking, we can come back to the other things in our life but when we are there, we really do what we need to cook it well.

With you on this huge journey of life that we are ALL living each day.
You keep asking and each Wednesday, I will answer.

Warmly on Wednesday,

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