Reflecting on Grief, That Age-Old Walk Through Dark Woods in Strange Country

Reflecting on Grief - Life Coaching with Teresa Young

I’m reflecting on a setback I’m having right… now. And after a good day yesterday! A phone session with an inspiring new client, a great meeting with my own coach, lessons with two super-fun students, a hug from their sweet mom. Poker Night with two of my sons and their ladies. Then, boom. Grief storm. I cried off and on all night.

And yet I also know everything is OK. It’s just a natural expression of the yin and yang of all things, including grieving.

Everything really is OK

So now I’m writing my way through this particular neck of dark woods while listening to Pandora’s “Rain Radio.” I played it for my mom all night right before she died. Now it’s one way of keeping her near me.

And I’m feeling the inner roller coaster ride of these two months since her death. I’m seeking guidance, too, as always. But in new ways. And I’m connecting with her, or at least trying to. Hoping I’m succeeding. Not sure yet.

But just after I got back to L.A., I had a beautiful dream of her striding out of the rubble of a fallen building like an action-adventure star, young and strong, with flaming red hair, in a bronze raincoat. And a dream of getting out of bed early one morning to sit in lotus pose to meditate.

I’m in the mood to consider that one almost an out-of-body experience. It felt so real. Talk about guidance. I’m workin’ on it.

Strange new country

The bottom line is that I’m hovering at the cusp of a dark place. Falling in at moments. Or for hours. Climbing out.

And again, it’s OK. My mother’s life and the beauty and complexity of our relationship are worth this heartbreak. It makes perfect sense to both my logical mind and my deep feeling function.

In fact, I’ve given myself permission to check in and out of “ordinary reality” as needed. Because the truth is that I’m in explorer mode as always, too, intent on learning whatever I can of the human experience while on this new leg of my own life journey.

Learning and changing

So far, I’ve learned that I go from intense need for solitude, for unstructured time, free of productivity concerns, to intense need for human contact. But of a kind that can be with me right here, where I was last night and am in this moment, grappling with death’s hand in the human condition, up close and personal. With the fact that my mother’s death is changing me—my priorities, my obsessions—in profound ways that I can’t predict yet, much less express.

I’ve never been here before. And I can’t see through to the other side of this stretch of unknown territory.

Nothing to fear here

I’m not afraid, though. I trust this process. I guess it’s the explorer in me. And I realize how stable my life had become these past few years. Stable in ways I didn’t know I could lose through feeling so searingly painfully the loss of another.

I didn’t know that what may have in fact become a phase of stasis gives way, in the face of the tipping of some great hourglass, to… what? So far, I don’t know. At least I don’t have words for it.

And yet, again, I know everything is OK. I know all this feeling is healthy and right. Not to be dreaded. Swallowed. Papered over. Made pretty. That in fact doing so would be the makings of future trouble.

It’s time to take time

Grief will have its space, time, and impact, whether honored and given its due, or driven down into the unconscious if we try to avoid the mess. Or if well-meaning others succeed in advising or expecting us to close that door and “move on.”

After all, you can’t cram for and knock grief out, like prepping for a meeting or taking the written test at the DMV. I have a new phrase for the present, at least new for me: soul time, in which “linear” time is no longer the end-all, be-all.

In fact, I’m thinking a lot about the soul these days. This is one of those times when it just demands what it wants and needs, what it knows is the work at hand. Work that may inform our futures. Our creative and contributory destinies.

It is what it is for now

And again, I trust all that. I honor it. It’s one way of honoring my beautiful mother. Of honoring these precious lives we’re all gifted with, both our own and those dearest to us.

Because, in truth, I’m still on my path. I’m still creatively engaged, feeling my way. So far, that’s what I need. That’s all I know. And it’s enough for me.

 

Life Coaching with Teresa Young
Photo: John Livzey

Teresa Young wants you living your dream, for real. She coaches by phone, in person in Los Angeles, and via Skype outside the U.S.