How do we give back to grief when it shattered life as we knew it?
The concept of survivors giving back is common in many support systems and organizations. Those that have found a way through to the other side return to support and encourage those still struggling.
Thankfully there are many individuals and organizations publicly embracing the unwieldy, uncomfortable, unimaginable thing that is grief; but how do we personally return to the land of loss when many of us escaped into the arms of life the first chance we got?
How do we offer our hearts to grief when our hearts are the very thing it tore from our chests?
This question was passed on to me and now I pass it on to you. And like the Olympic torch stays lifted and lit, I wonder if we can each do our part to keep the question alive and find our own unique answer.
Sometimes we have the resources and strength to revisit the land of loss and walk beside the people who still reside there, not as someone who has all the answers, but as a fellow human being who has loved and lost and still lives, still loves.
Sometimes we lend grief our voice or share our story of loss in writing, not because it fixes anything but because it helps others feel less alone in their grief. Sometimes we use our physical presence to stand at the side of another who has lost or to support the numerous and varied grief groups. Sometimes we create a safe space of our own with the abilities we have, the resources we’ve been given and our own unique experience of grief.
Sometimes we don’t give our hearts back to grief because just the thought of it breaks our hearts all over again. And that’s absolutely fine. Just because grief chose us doesn’t mean we have to choose it.
The thing is that grief is a language all its own. We, the ones who have lost, are privileged to translate it for the world and to speak to those who have just found themselves fluent in this foreign tongue.
This puts us in the unique position of using our voices to create a new paradigm for grief; to collectively lift the stigma from grief; to teach people who haven’t lost how to support us, how to walk beside us without trying to rush us or fix us or make us presentable.
We are the ones who will teach the world how to not turn away from grief and the grieving by not turning away from it ourselves.
I carry the torch of grief because in the darkness of loss it may be the only light there is. And when the day comes that I return to the land of loss as a resident and not as a visitor, I hope the flicker of the flame you’re carrying will light my way.
(I will be giving a voice to grief in my own unique way on January 27, 2017 at my Living With Loss event. Please join me if you can.)