It’s the end of the lunar month; the pause between one life and the next, the space between each breath.
I’ve had to let something go this week. The house that we were hoping to buy turned out to need just too much work doing to it. Pretty major, expensive work that would have to be done before we move to make it safe; our three week deadline just doesn’t allow long enough for that, even if we could afford it.
Although we don’t feel too sad (maybe denial?!), we are grieving for a house that, apart from all this work, ticked all of our boxes in what we wanted for a home. Bereavement doesn’t just apply in the context of a loved one’s death; it happens – in a small way – everyday when something we’ve hoped for doesn’t work out, when something gets lost or broken, when we notice change. That change could be the realisation that our little girl is becoming an adolescent, or seeing that our favourite trousers now just have too many holes to repair. We can still go through a grief process such as that described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that grieving for your old jeans is on a par with grieving for someone you dearly loved. Yet we do sense loss in these everyday events. In my experience, we tend to discourage ourselves and each other from grieving. We may hear “oh something else will come along” or “well they have to grow up” etc. Sure, we want to move on and not dive into days of despondency, yet our feelings are still valid and deserve acknowledgement.
One of the hardest bereavements I have experienced was around the birth of my son. We had planned a beautiful, gentle, spiritual labour and birth at home. It ended up that I laboured in a hospital room mostly alone, being told by staff that I wasn’t in labour. Dylan then got into distress and was born by emergency Cesaerean amidst fears he would not make it. Few people seemed to empathise with our grief; almost everyone just said “oh but at least he was safe and well in the end”. Of course I’m ultimately grateful that he was. But hearing this over and over made me feel as though my grief wasn’t valid. In fact, many friends and family have seemed more sympathetic this week over the loss of this house! I wonder what that says about our society’s values…
I encourage us all to allow ourselves to mourn a little when we genuinely feel mournful. That job you didn’t get, that project you put so much into but just didn’t turn out right, that relationship that has ended.
Personally, I like to pause for a few moments and visualise what it is that I’ve lost. You could hold a physical reminder – the job rejection letter etc. I remember what the thing I’m mourning has given me or would have given me and I name the feelings that I’m feeling. Crying is fine! Sometimes it seems right to then visualise what I now hope for (for example, finding a new home). Sometimes it just seems right to focus on giving thanks and letting go. Letting go with knowledge that I may well still think of this thing from time to time, that I may still feel angry or sad or whatever about it. It’s ok for me to.
I then find it helpful to shift my awareness to my feet on the ground, or even to go and nourish myself with a warm drink and nice snack. Doing something like this brings me back from my emotions to the physical level.
This is just what works for me – you’re beautifully different and something different may work better for you! Of course not all bereavements have the same magnitude; this is a description of how I acknowledge more mundane losses. Some things may naturally have a much, much longer grieving process that may really benefit from support from friends, family or professional counselors. ♥