Grief is a heavy topic to cover, I get that.
And we all have different ways of perceiving the process, rituals and ongoing emotions associated with death, loss and grief. Not to mention different fundamental ideals and understandings about what “life after death” or even “what the point” of life is all about.
But grief and loss is something as people, we can’t avoid.
It is one of the fundamentals of life, you are born and you will die.
Sorry, again, I know that concept alone freaks some people out.
But it does happen to all of us.
And furthermore, someone doesn’t even actually have to die for you to feel grief or loss over something. As people we can feel loss at a failed project, we can feel grief over at the end of a relationship breakdown, fuck we all often feel grief over losing hopes and dreams of ideas or concepts of the ways you wish or expected things might have been.
And given this is something we will all face most of us will experience grief and loss in some form or another many, many times in our lives, but we are terrible as a social cohort about talking about it.
I’m not even talking about actually talking about death, don’t even get me started there, that’s a whole different post in itself. But just grief and loss alone.
I post about my Dad and other members of my life who are no longer with us because it keeps their stories and their memories relevant in my life.
If I don’t talk about them, create stories about them for the generation that never knew them, well, its like a fate worse than death, its like banishment. It’s like they didn’t exist.
And there had been stacks of research on how social media and other online formats can be really helpful for grief and how one might process it on an individual level.
But being vulnerable and sharing stories of grief and loss online isn’t me NOT coping, in fact, it’s the exact opposite.
Being vulnerable in life, having the openness and courage to be truly ok experiencing and living through (as well as talking about) the lows, gives us this ultimate opportunity to actually experience the amazing joys and happiness and euphoric fun and all the highs at different times as well.
Me talking about the biggest losses in my life, omg of course there are going to be parts of that which are sad. If there weren’t they wouldn’t be the “greatest losses of my life” would they…
But does that mean me and my soul are at that moment I press “Publish” or “Post” are sitting there crying into a pillow in sorrow. No, no, no, no…. not even remotely.
I mean I write from my heart, not from my head in these posts often. In academia and research and business it was always written from my head, but in this form, well you get raw writing from my heart sometimes. People probably don’t even realise, most of my blog posts now, are actually first written by hand. Then I type it… it’s more like selected bits of journal entry if you like…
But there is a key difference – you don’t get it AT the time.
I don’t post something I am feeling vulnerable about when I am still vulnerable about it because, well, because- the internet is mean.
People aren’t nice online.
This isn’t like a surprise or shock to me at all. There are scientific reasons for it.
Psychologists now, unlike in 2011 when we were campaigning about taking these issues seriously (Be Kind Online post) have many different studies and methods and models of why and how the internet does what it does to us.
Not only that they have stacks and stacks and stacks of case studies and stories, of people, and of the real damaging effects these issues have had on them and models and strategies about how to treat some of those.
This is something that despite people being more aware of it, has only got worse in recent years.
But the thing about vulnerability is it makes us uncomfortable because it allows us to truly connect with others.
To me, talking about grief gives it a greater opportunity to transform itself into growth.
Hiding or numbing or running from the very darkest parts of our own experiences means we do the same for the flip side of the coin.
I’m not going to start hypothesising about life after death or varying perceptions or ideas of that here but one thing I do know is that “love is a form of energy that swirls all around us, their love for you has not left this world, it is still inside your heart and is reborn as new love” (like that one? Kid’s cartoon, linked it below, its actually pretty awesome).
But the stories and the characters of the people we no longer have with us, they can only live on through us.
There are my boys and Eden particularly I think of in these kinds of things. I want them to know stories about these people. For my boys their grandfather, for Eden, its her father.
I am fortunate and grateful that I had my whole childhood with an amazing active and involved father as a role model and I know not everybody gets that. Not only death or absence can rob us of those. But as much as I am grateful, it’s also ok to be sad at times.
And it is easy to be bitter. At times before in my life I have definitely been bitter at the hand dealt to me for sure. Not just about my dad or death, but life in general. I was a rather bitter teenagers in retrospect haha. But bitterness gets you nowhere.
I don’t tell stories about those no longer with us or write letters to them FOR THEM…
I write them for myself and for those other who are still here missing them too. As a way to both process my grief into growth and to share my vulnerability as a way to connect but also to show others its ok to be vulnerable too.
When a little girl looks up to you mid blowing bubbles at her fathers funeral (your friends funeral) and says, “your daddy is dead like mine, hey?” and I can manage to blow another REALLY deep breathe of bubbles out, tears silently streaming down my face, look at her and smile, “yeah… yeah he is hunny..” and then scoot her in a bit closer to me as we continue to blow bubbles and marvel at them together, that’s both grief and growth.
During that moment I realised something, the person who helped me most when I was in Eden’s shoes, even if I was twenty years older, was another little girl, not much older than Eden at the time.
And the wise little girl who sat with me when it was my Dad I couldn’t get my head around losing had death with her own unfair share of death already in her life journey even at that tender age. She was the one who reminded me his “love is still all around us, when people die we just have to tell more stories about them so others don’t forget about them and their love. That’s all. OMG, look at that HUUUUUUGE bubble!!!”
Children are beautiful and wise beyond what many of us give them credit for.
And stories are legacies.
I talk about the people that I’ve “lost” in this lifetime lots because I love them and I don’t want others (including the kids) to forget about them or they love they are swirling around all of us.
Hahah I feel like I should sign off “Namaste” 😛
I’ll leave ya with this instead… Its only ten minutes, watch it, its awesome…
CARTOON EXPLAINING CONCEPT OF CHAKRAS
It’s from a kids cartoon explanation about chakras, its actually really cool but pre warning, maybe a bit scary for little kids, I wouldn’t show my boys right now… But Josh is maybe more sensitive to “scary” stuff in show cause we don’t watch TV but use your discretion…
If you haven’t seen this video which is a TED Talk by Brene Brown about vulnerability its also very much worth watching…