Holding the Pain

Since connecting with the grief community I have been hearing about the concept of holding your pain. It is given different names: leaning in, telling your story, sitting with your pain.  Let me tell you that, for me, this is very uncomfortable at the least.  I mean who wants to willingly hang out with the thing that is hurting you the most? Why would I want to do such a crazy thing? It is much easier to get busy and do something like reorganize my bill filing system, go to work, or flip on Netflix to binge watch whatever is my current favorite show.

When I first heard this, I had the image of a barefoot woman in a long flowy gown holding a candle saying in a whispery voice, “Now see your pain. Visualize it in front of you. Go ahead tell the sadness that you see it, and you love it.  Just wrap your arms around it and hold it there.” About that point I break in and say in my stern ‘don’t mess with me’ voice,  “Wait a minute sister, what kind of crazy are you trying to sell me?”

There is a natural tendency after loss to curl in on ourselves.  It is an automatic reaction that we can’t help. The world gets smaller and we live in our own little bubble for a time. In essence our minds and hearts already know how to hold the pain and allow grief to unfold. In fact, it can be so complete that it seems as if the rest of the world is still spinning on at an alarming rate while we are stationary, suspended in time.

It isn’t that anyone is recommending that we permanently seek out the pain of our loss.  Acknowledging  what we have lost and how it has changed our lives helps us adapt to the new future that has been foisted upon us.  To ignore it doesn’t change the reality, it just keeps us in a past that no longer exists.

For me, I have learned that I have to accept myself, my thoughts, my emotions and my actions. I can’t just put on my ‘everything is okay’ smile at work and go through my days. I am much too tired to keep on that way.

I can say that my world has gotten a little bigger.  I have rejoined the world, not at the furious pace that most of it seems to go at, but I am there.  I am still more protective of my time, my space, my energy and emotions.  The pain is still very much there, but now it isn’t the only thing

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