During the month of June, I had the privilege of leading four Grief Gatherings as part of the Reimagine: Life, Loss, and Love worldwide festival. These gatherings were an opportunity for people who suffered loss to connect around their shared experience through meditation, conversation, and ritual. Some folks who attended were experiencing fresh loss while other grieved losses that happened years (or even decades) ago.
This quote, by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, speaks to me of our experience of grief which never goes away, only transforms and evolves as the days, months, and years pass.
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
This year is the 10th anniversary of my father’s death. I can’t believe I have lived ten years of my life without him. The death of my father changed me forever. I wouldn’t want to go back to being the person I was before, because that would mean that his life – and death – meant nothing to me. I still have questions I want to ask him and hear jokes I would like to share with him. When something breaks or needs repair, he is still the first person I think of to call. I hope these experiences of connection stay with me always because they let me know that he continues to live in me.
Today, I am whole but I am not the same. I feel this way about the death of my beloved “Gram” and, one day, will experience this through future losses I will endure. Each person that we love, and lose, changes us.
I will be hosting four more Grief Gatherings in August. I’ll be posting details about these gatherings on my Facebook page, website, and e-newsletter. I don’t see my work as helping people to ‘get over’ loss but, as Kubler-Ross says, rebuilding and finding wholeness in the presence of grief.