Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for grief

I’m participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge throughout April.
Monday - something light to start the week. A bit of self-care, creativity challenge or the like.
Tuesday - telling notes for a specific story or kind of story. Tips and tricks to help you think about what you're telling and how.
Wednesday - my usual #tellinglife post, looking at some of the more personal aspects of storytelling and its role in my life.
Thursday - a dip into some of the issues facing contemporary storytelling or a dive into some of the more unusual applications of storytelling.
Friday - my usual personal post about life following the death of my husband
Saturday - the storytelling coach offers a tip you can use right now. An example of the kinds of tools I encourage my students to use.

Well, today's title was a bit of a no-brainer, wasn't it.

Webster's defines grief as deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement. Such a simple set of words for something so complex. It's a word that (like so many of our most powerful words) has been diluted. "Don't give me any grief" a stressed parent might say to a willful child. I shudder whenever I hear that, thinking that should the child truly give the parent grief, their heart would be broken beyond repair.

So it is, grief is a heart broken beyond repair. The word comes from Middle English, meaning calamity and that is what grief is. It's a calamity. An undoing.

My experience with grief has included numbness, pain beyond description both physical and emotional, a sense of deep isolation. I am not who I was before Kevin died. My heart has broken and slowly I am finding a way to knit the pieces into a new heart. My old heart is gone. What is emerging is something familiar and similar, but different.

I like to think that I have been a reasonably kind person for most of my life. Kindness is my abiding belief, that we must be kind to one another, but I am learning a new form of kindness now. A deeper sense of compassion. It's not consistent, what is, but it is there.

So grief is also a teacher. It is one of the few teachers we all will encounter, if we are lucky. If we are lucky we will love someone deeply enough that when they die (and some of them will die) we grieve. We break. We are formed anew. We are not alone in our grief though it may feel that way; the oldest recorded story is one of friendship and grief.

Perhaps I should say that, instead of grief being a heart broken beyond repair, it is a crucible. Grief melts us down until we are unrecognizable and then gives us the opportunity to be formed anew. Not the same. Never the same. But into something that might reflect light back to the world with more grace.

There are so many things I am grateful for. Highest among them is Kevin. His life. His gifts. His love. And yes, because I have no choice in the matter but how I respond to it, his death. I would never have chosen for Kevin to die, certainly not when and how he did. But his death has allowed great grief to enter my life and I have been destroyed and am rebuilding. I have changed. I have written and spoken and carried his light into the world.

Without allowing myself to grieve, this wouldn't have happened. And I am so grateful for it all.

G is for gratitude. Which is, perhaps, the mirror image of grief.

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

1 comment:

  1. I'm out blog hopping on a Friday afternoon in NorthCarolina looking for fellow writers. You've been busy! I am resting on my laurels today having everything in the queue except X & Z. It will come to me. If you have an interest in hotels and inns, that is my theme this year. Love the #Challenge....finding new blogs like yours.


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