Creating is both lonely and deeply connecting. I love reflecting on what it means to create and the courage it takes. The lives and stories of artists intrigue me. The post includes the story behind this beautiful sculpture.
I look a lot like this puppy. My face wrinkles and sadness fills my eyes and sometimes trickles down my face. If only there was a protective pill or shot we could take to immunize ourselves and the ones we love from experiencing loss.
I don’t mean to depress you at the beginning of the week, but how we lose and grieve things directly impacts our ability to feel joy and empathy. Our lives become small when we do not grieve.
My default is to hide or devalue my grief. Thoughts run through my mind: Why am I feeling this? I shouldn’t be feeling this! For years I stuffed my grief inside, thinking it would disappear. It didn’t.
Fall and winter holidays that the media paints as bright and joyful are tinged with sadness for many who miss loved ones or feel alone. The laughter and joy flashing at us from every direction can highlight our feelings of loss and depression. This is why I’ve chosen this Monday morning reflection to be on grief.
Here are a few reflection questions intertwined with lessons learned along the way.
What are your current losses?
There are big losses: losing a loved one, moving away from friends, losing one’s house in a fire… But there are also the small loses mixed in with the gifts of life. The loss of sleep as a newborn is welcomed into the family. The loss of connections as new seasons and ventures emerge.
It’s easy to ignore these small losses or even to feel silly about the grief tugging on the edge of our heart. But if we ignore them, they begin to wear us down.
Don’t be afraid to admit your loss.
How do you grieve your loss? Is it easy or difficult for you?
Grief can be uncomfortable. Tears, sadness and an array of negative emotions bubble to the surface. My grief is usually a mixture of heart pain, tears, laying on the floor and then waiting for the wave of grief to subside.
When I first allowed myself to grieve, my greatest fear was that it would consume me. I thought I would become lost in my grief and unable to find my way out. I don’t understand how grief works, but I have found that when I allow myself to grieve deeply and fully, I slowly, very slowly, find myself lifted out of the grief.
What gifts have you received today?
It is only after we have gone through the valley of grieving that we can begin to receive gifts again.
When I did not allow myself to grieve, my strength was focused on being strong. I did not have energy or space within myself to accept the gifts I had been given. They came to me, but I was unable to accept or acknowledge them.
As we grieve our loss, allowing its impact to move us, we become open to receiving new gifts.
I wish healing were easy. I wish grieving was less painful. As we enter the holiday season, don’t be afraid if you find grief pulling at your sleeve. Life can be a chaotic mixture of joy and loss.
My prayer for you is that you will find the freedom to both grieve your losses and embrace the gifts you have been given.
I leave you with a quote by Anne Lamott. I’ve been re-reading Traveling Mercies and love her raw honesty and descriptive storytelling that paint pictures in my mind.
What I’ve discovered…that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it.
I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.
Do you have an idea for a story?
November is the National Novel Writing Month and there are websites (click here to see one) dedicated to helping people write a 50,000 word novel by November 30th.
The goal is to keep writing, regardless of how bad the writing may be.
Writing is exploring. We start with a simple idea, but as we begin to flesh out the characters and develop the plot, we find the story twisting and turning in unexpected ways. I continue to be surprised at the epiphanies and places my writing takes me. I may begin a story thinking it will unfold one way, but am soon met by surprises.
The first draft is the first step. Just like a baby’s first steps, it involves a lot of struggle and pulling oneself up to continue. The goal is to get down more than just the page numbers.
The most frequently proclaimed writing advice: keep writing.
Even when you find yourself in the thick of a forest, surrounded by wolves, unsure of the way towards the end of the story, keep writing.
Even when you’ve lost enthusiasm for where you are heading and are filled with self doubt, keep writing.
I’m giving myself a pep talk here. I signed up for the November writing project because of an idea I stumbled across in a writing exercise in my writing group. It’s been haunting me ever since and begging to be fleshed into a story. My confession is that I’m only 1,000 words in.
So I’m reminding myself, and if you need the reminder, this if for you too: keep writing.
It’s easy to do everything else before sitting down to write, but I feel most centered and in line with myself and my dreams when I write first. There will be time to wash the dishes, send that email and check my Facebook later. But if I do those things first, I will be too tired at the end of the day to write.
Tonight Jon is spending time with friends. This post is my reminder to myself of the importance of writing first. If writing is what I want to do, the only way forward is to write.
How do you inspire, or drag, yourself to sit down and write?
May the words you write take you on an adventure.
May you enjoy the process.
PS: If you know a friend who would enjoy this post, feel free to forward this to them. We’re always looking to grow our community of writers who want to share their work with the world and make a difference.