This is where it gets real.
Where the raw and tender emotions that have been relegated to the halls of isolation and shame can finally come out to be seen.
Mothers weeping over lost children.
Men wailing over the state of our world.
Youth crying over unprocessed abuse.
Holding space for this deep and brave work is one of the privileges of my life.
Last weekend we led our bi-annual Grief Retreat.
28 people courageously arrived …
Longing to lift the burdens of their heart.
Seeking a safe space to unravel.
Secretly desiring to feel sane again.
The truth is, my friends.
This journey of life can be downright HARD.
* And as a leader in the personal growth industry, I believe it’s my responsibility to speak up for the spaces that we unconsciously are making “bad” in our pursuit of success. *
In my 20’s I was hungry for a new way of life. I set forth to “be all I came to be”. To build a career based in passion and purpose. To expand into a joyous existence.
But part of why I was doing it is that I wanted to get away from the feelings and thoughts that haunted me.
I didn’t like how I felt about myself sometimes.
I didn’t like the punitive voices in my head.
I didn’t like the chronic sadness that was following me around.
And I thought personal growth equaled getting rid of all that.
It was an “out” for my pain.
Now don’t get me wrong.
I AM an advocate for the best life. That does include arriving at new wisdom on how to choose well.
I’m not here saying that life is hard and that you have to be a victim to it. That the hardness has to diminish your quality of life.
Or that it’s wrong to want to feel the relief of pain. I’m ALL for welcoming more and more pleasure. I’m ALL over building a reality that feels good to your soul.
But I AM also saying that I discovered pretty quickly that my pursuit of joy was incomplete without acknowledging the grief.
I don’t pretend. I reject inauthenticity.
So it was rapidly clear to me that what some people call joy is really not that at all.
It’s a COVER UP. An obsession with positivity. A spiritual by-pass that actually keeps us distant from accessing even more of the juice of life.
I realized that to feel more joy, I had to feel more grief.
I realized that to be more prosperous, I had to feel more grief.
Because you can’t allow for more life force to move through you in “some ways” but not others. You can’t compartmentalize energy.
You can’t pinch off the flow of your genuine emotions hoping that more abundance will come through.
Emotions are PART of accessing more abundance.
Feelings are a DOORWAY to greater prosperity.
Grief is a COMPANION to increased joy.
Here are some reasons why I do grief work. Because …
* I am here to be fully alive.
I don’t want a numbed out existence.
I don’t want to live with regret.
I don’t want to hold back my true self.
* I am here to prosper- and help others prosper.
Our disconnection from grief is a part of our conditioned lack and scarcity consciousness. We’ve been taught that the dark of the Winter and the mystery of the Feminine is scary.
So we impatiently reach for resolve by staying busy and acquiring more stuff. An ability to be content with the simplicity and at peace with the unknown is key to true wealth.
* I care about people and the planet.
Grief is a demonstration of what I care for and what matters to me. Sometimes I’m broken open as I deeply ache for a world in which peace and love prevail. I don’t know how to stay sane with the suffering that exists without grieving.
* I want to be a more compassionate and kind person.
Holding back grief becomes a barrier between me and “other”. Grief breaks down the walls and creates a common understanding that bonds.
* I am a leader, and unkept emotions and unprocessed grief becomes a dangerous ground for projection and shadows.
I believe it is my responsibility to use my influence with conscious and humble awareness. Too many leaders are unconsciously and destructively attempting to get their unmet emotional needs met through the perceived power they are attempting to gain.
* It is sacred activism.
Grief is some of the most radical, brave and effective work to help us heal the divides, take a stand for higher principles that nourish all beings and unify our efforts toward a greater good.
* I help people be free.
It’s simple. Grief will set you free. I get that it may not feel that way while you’re in it. In fact, it’s one of the reasons people avoid it. It can consume you. It can make you feel completely out of control. It can leave you feeling like a helpless puddle. But ultimately, to deny grief is to deny the sacred, vital and beautiful totality of life.
“Grief work offers us a trail leading back to the vitality that is our birthright. When we fully honor our many losses, our lives become more fully able to embody the wild joy that aches to leap from our hearts into the shimmering world.” ~Francis Weller
With all that I am,
Kendra E Thornbury, MA