Thursday, 12 January 2012
Running away from grief
I suppose it's a bit of a tendency of mine to run away from difficult situations; walking out when an argument gets too heated; leaving a gathering when the atmosphere becomes uncomfortable for me, stopping my train of thought when things go a bit too far. Walls of protection, quickly put up, by me,.. saving me from what the hurt could bring. Or barring me from the healing that suffering can bestow...
Two nights ago I ran away. From a beautiful group of people who meet together to share and move their grief together. We met last year at a grief tending ritual on Dartmoor, a ritual practiced by the Dagara people of West Africa. The ritual has been adapted for western practice by Wisdom Bridge and was held for us by Maeve Gavin at Way of the Village . For the Dagara people, the ritual is a weekly event, for everyone has grief to move and to speak. Grief is not a wrapped up solitary affair confined to laced edged handkerchiefs and funerals and the confines of our bedrooms. It is a flowing universal force which howls and beckons and surges in the beauty of its power. It needs to move and be shared and witnessed and this is what the ritual taught me.
The ritual was a turning point for me. For two years I had been 'the grieving mother' supported and loved, yes, but feeling as if I was on an island of grief that only I could experience. But we don't have to lose a child to grieve. We can mourn a damaged childhood, we can mourn the loss of a way of life that our ancestors expected as their birthright, close to nature and each other, we can mourn the devastation of our planet, the suffering of so many children, animals, plants.....grief is something that every single one of us will experience and how we deal with it will have a huge impact on our lives. We can stuff it inside with numbing techniques such as drugs, overeating, drink or retail therapy, or we can let it out... and that's scarey..
During the ritual I was able to be witnessed and supported in my grieving, my tears emerged from my bedroom where they had been welling for so long, and it was terrifying for me. I almost ran away, but something, some tiny kernel of courage and wisdom deep inside, wouldn't let me. I'm so glad I stayed. I felt the love and support of a group of people who I had only met two days before, and, crucially for me, felt strong and able to support them too.... through their grief. I felt openess and love filling us all and above all, connection ...to myself, to the people around me, to life itself. The tears were cleansing and releasing, a universal experience. It was a beautiful and life changing weekend.
So why did I run away two nights ago?
Well, life's been pretty disconnected recently. I have forgotten to spend time connecting with what's going on inside. It's tricky when you've got to finish building your home very quickly and still keep a cohesive family and get through a busy Christmas. I jumped into our grief meeting from a very busy day, in a very busy week with my mind and body reeling from the onslaught of a thousand tiny needs and demands...
And as everyone at the meeting shifted down into writing or drawing as a means of expressing the grief present for them, I froze. Images of Lily alone in her shining land seared into my mind...I could draw that...images of me alone and unable to reach her...I could draw that..but you know, I couldn't. I knew that the meeting ended in the not too distant future, and I just couldn't dive into that huge well of pain and emotion and then drag myself out again and drive home. Maybe I should've, but I didn't . I ran out in a rather sudden and dramatic way.
But I'll go back again. We'll all meet again, and next time I'll stay. And in the meantime I'll make time in my day to connect and be quiet, to be with myself, to be with Lily, and maybe to cry..and not always by myself......