30 Jul Good Grief
All of life requires an acknowledgement of death.
Recently, a beloved son in our community took his life. No, he did not commit suicide, the choice he made in that simply unguarded moment was in no way a sin; condemning him to eternal damnation.
Those left behind however, have experienced deep moments of what that mythical place may be like.
I organised a forum and spoke at our surf club to many grieving souls. Faith was the youngest, at 5, to attend. Mostly I was speaking to 10-21 year olds.
One of life’s biggest questions is about death and what death does. It always leads to loss and grief and it’s very, very hard. No one is left untouched.
About twenty years ago a man in his sixties came to me, “How can I help?”
“I just lost my son, three days ago.”
He continued to tell me he’d made a decision, a choice to grieve deeply for one week. He asked for my help, then he went back into his public life and lived for his son, a part of him eternally empty and broken.
In contrast, others have chosen differently, as their hearts broke and shock sets into them, they open their home and hearts, they include and support everyone around them.
Grieving is personal, any way you do it is right, as long as no harm comes to yourself or another.
I have been around many families in their time of loss and grief, however, what I experienced in Avalon during this time, was truly tribal.
A week after this beautiful boys passing, I awoke with a strong sense of urgency and wrote the following…
The Grief Counsel – And a way forward
When a death occurs, we go into shock.
Let’s begin with the breath. This is a tool for anxiety, depression, confusion, fear and shock.
Close the eyes, take a deep breath through the nose, right down into the solar plexus, hold for three, still and calm yourself, out through the nose, and let go for three.
I have no intention of fixing, healing or changing any of you.
The broken bit, you all carry, is very, very important.
Loving him is very, very important.
Both of these things will now become parts of you forever.
My work is helping you to integrate these pieces in order for you to heal yourselves, and each other.
So, what will you decide to do with this seemingly unbearable pain?
Hide it, misplace it, wrestle with it, blame it or hold it in an unhealthy place?
Or, will you forgive it, pull it close, share it, love it and accept it?
It is now, after all, a part of you.
You see, this is your choice – no one can choose for you. You stand on the threshold of adult life.
What do you choose to do? This will either grow you up or knock you down. It’s entirely in your hands.
Ask for help – that’s a grown up choice, sometimes it feels harder but hopefully after this evening you know it’s easily available to you.
Healing is best done through acknowledgement (which is what we’re doing tonight), acceptance and then love. Love, for the part of you that could do nothing, that feels powerless. And we all have that part to hold.
The shocked, horrified, disbelieving bit will settle. All the confusing questions needed to be asked, but soon they will need to be replaced.
That endless place of missing your mate or friend or brother will deepen you. It will help form the fabric of the man and woman you become. From now on, he will be woven into many elements of your life, where he otherwise could never be.
Again this is up to you, weave him into the important things, as well as the day to day. And these are the important things to consider:
Alcohol – celebrate him with one beer; don’t nullify him with many.
Drugs – some use them to connect and heal, and sometimes they feel like they do this, but mostly they don’t. When you move through the haze, the pain is still present. One in ten of you runs the risk of becoming so addicted or psychotic that the choices I speak of today will no longer be at your disposal.
You’ll lose everything, and these are the facts, not scare tactics.
Growing yourselves – this may be through formal education, apprenticeships, Tafe courses, internships; do that – grow yourselves. You see, he hasn’t got that chance or choice, so do it for him as well as for you.
Relationships – they give life purpose and meaning. Invest in them, hold them gently, be grateful for them, use them to help and heal you.
You are, each and every one of you, a valuable part of life. Life is left undone and incomplete without you reaching out, exploring and expressing your potential.
I only ask three things of you all:
Remember to relax, restore and reconnect, every single day.
Be resilient – do things that make you feel stronger. I believe people are measured more by the difficult and challenging things than the simple and easy, this is an opportunity to find out who you are and want to be.
Take responsibility – your ability to respond to this is only yours to do, as I’ve said. No one can tell you how to bring yourself to this, you decide. Responsibility is not as heavy as you might think. Actually, it’s quite empowering; it’s life changing. Look around you, again I emphasise, help is at hand. Don’t allow anything to go for too long and try to deal with it yourself – it’s not necessary. Please know that. As you ask for help, little by little, you grow up. There is absolutely nothing to be scared of, the only demon here is if you choose to leave parts of yourself behind and not grow from what has happened to you all.
Of course, I can’t know what any of your spiritual or energetic beliefs are, they are yours. However, I would advise you if you have none, to try and find some. Read, ask, explore.
All cultures have something they believe in, and it doesn’t have to be organised religion, more often these days, it’s not.
Just don’t leave your heart and soul starving for answers.
When you question, don’t rest until you have the answer that sits well within you. These questions are an opportunity to sure yourself up.
If at the end of your enquiry you decide to be humanist, meaning just believing in this human experience – nothing before or after this life. Fabulous, I love that too. You decide. Make your decision because you choose, not because you’re lazy or arrogant.
Buddhist culture tells us that a soul is born with an allocation of breaths to breathe. Early that Saturday morning, he breathed his last.
If you choose to believe he died with his body, then please honour and celebrate his life by living yours brilliantly.
If you know, it is only his body, the vessel that carried his soul, that is gone, commune with him, talk to him, laugh and smile for him.
His passing has ended a chapter for you, that age of innocence, that childlike belief that everything will always be okay.
So this next chapter is up to all of you now. But the most important thing is that you don’t feel alone, ever. How you honour him and bookmark that place for him, how you respect, speak and support each other, and how you grow through this is yours to keep.
Always, where there is life, there is death – it comes to every one of us.
Never, miss and opportunity to lead by example, and teach our young to honour, celebrate and grieve.
They say, tears are not a sign of weakness, but of unbearable grief and unspeakable love.