Tag Archives: comfort

Sad is not bad, it’s necessary…

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Recently, we experienced the ordeal of our daughter, our youngest, leaving home for college. What followed were several evenings of looking awkwardly across the dinner table at each other, lots of silence, and a profound, unshakable sadness.   Obviously, there was some anticipation of emotional pain prior to the event, since our son had left home three years earlier, but it did little to cushion the blow of our suddenly-empty house and empty hearts.

When your children leave home, even in happiness and excitement for their future, your life completely upends. Everything changes, and the loss of their presence is tangible.  Adjustment begins slowly and naturally, in urgent necessity, accomplished through the process of grieving what has been lost.  A shroud of sadness settles over us like a healing cocoon, incubating against a world that continues to move, unmoved, by our personal hell.  For a time, we curl into our memories of hugs and spoken words, the sheets that smell like a distant perfume, and trophies lovingly packed away into boxes with labels.

Such an incubation period is necessary to healing, yet people outside our grief are not comfortable with our sadness…

The concept of ‘being sad’ has somehow been perverted. It has become a status of disdain, to be avoided or treated away as quickly as possible.  But just as happiness has its place in our life journey, so does sadness.  If we weren’t so preoccupied with the belief that one should be in an impossible state of ‘constant happiness’, we might be better equipped to see the positive aspects of something that makes us, essentially…’feel bad’.

Sounds like a contradiction…I mean, how can something that makes us feel bad, be good for us?

In the case of our daughter leaving home, I can say my sadness is good, because it comes from a place of deep, intense love. I’m grieving my personal loss of her presence, which added so much immeasurable happiness to my daily life.  However, I grieve for me, yet rejoice for her and for the world that will now have the unique opportunity to get to know her.  It is in the hope for her future that I find my way through the grief of her leaving.  Thankfully, I grieve a change, impermanent in that I still have her in my life, though no longer under my roof.

A few days after her arrival at college, one of the students on campus went missing. Two days ago, as we visiting our daughter, a body was found just off campus and identified as the missing young woman.  I will not pretend to be capable of comprehending the level of grief her family is now experiencing…

What I do know is that their grieving, like mine, is necessary

Grief, on all levels, is an acknowledgement. We are fragile creatures.  Without acknowledgment of the truth, the pronounced permanence and unpredictability of change, we cannot find the acceptance necessary to move on.  Grief simultaneously teaches us and puts us in our place.  The stages grow in us a steady, burning desire to continue to live, learn, love, and inspire.

When we’re on the outside of grief, watching another in pain, we want to make it better. We recognize pain is painful and our compassion wishes it away, especially when it’s someone we love.  We just want to make it all better, but we need to exercise patience and respect for the process and acknowledge it.  It’s important to remember that grief, sadness, and pain are necessary components to the human experience.

Nothing highlights great happiness as much as marked sadness. Never was one so overjoyed to come into the light, as one who has just emerged from the darkest forest floor.  The key to grief and sadness is maintaining, and promoting, hope.  Hope is the tiny light that beckons through the darkest hour, pointing us toward acceptance and beyond.

No matter the cause, we really shouldn’t seek to counsel those who are grieving. Grief is a natural process, like breathing, so let it be.  Grief shouldn’t be chastised simply because it makes us uncomfortable.  Instead, grief should find respect for its process.  It should be met with patient compassion and loving hopefulness for its promise to yield to brighter days  🙂

 

*Image courtesy of:  http://evolvingfaith.blogspot.com/p/grief-quotes.html*

Time, Control and other Illusions…

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Change is a constant.  We know this to be true.  Seasons change and visible change takes place; things grow, mature, decline, die.  In light of this fact, we should question:  Can any of us predict the exact day a flower will bloom?  Do we know what will entangle the hours and minutes of our inevitable death?  Can we, in the conscience of all that is spontaneous, say we will recognize a life-changing event prior to its inception?  May we hope to unravel the complexities of connection, discourse, and influence in our own existence, and all those around us?

No…we can do none of these things…

Therefore, we are not in control.  We control ourselves, our emotions, responses, and perceptions but nothing else.  If I plant a flower, feed and water it exactly right, it still holds within it the potential to die.  Nature is uncontrolled and breathing and she does not yield to human will.  We can include human beings in the mix too, because we are of this world, this ‘nature’; unpredictable and wild, somewhat stable, but certain to change.

So why, without constants, do we still believe we exercise control over the uncontrollable?

We strive to control because we find the illusion of control comforting…our belief in the illusion makes us at least feel as though we are not given up to chance, and feelings, it seems, are quite important to our perceptions of order.  We function under a grand ideal; an ideal which preaches unequivocally that stability trumps change, order trumps chaos and preparation trumps surprise…

Yet, we yearn for all things spontaneous.  We fill our legends, music, and movies with it and we dream lofty dreams.  Silly really, since true spontaneity is literally defined by throwing oneself into the disordered, wildness of the universe with the sole purpose of experiencing the unplanned with a devil-may-care attitude.  True spontaneity is a rare thing, because the ideal prefers boundaries and borders to spontaneity.   Spontaneity must conform to the comfortable parameters set forth by our illusions.  Illusions which state we can somehow exercise a measure of control over our ‘spontaneous’ experiences, somehow making them ‘better’.

Because, of course, all we do not know makes us uncomfortable.  So what we do not know is unpredictable, and requires explanation and measurement to become comfortable, even if the measurement and explanation is illusion…

Take time for example…does time, as we understand it, actually exist?

What does time fundamentally mean to a newborn?  How does it matter to the deathbed?  And all the spaces between, which are filled, managed, scheduled, forgotten, procrastinated, or logged…what do they mean?  Is life merely a score sheet of timed tally marks in which we, as human beings, with our ‘mathematical concepts’ of time set out to measure and denote and catalog that which is, in reality, unpredictable and constant change?

It is uncomfortable to us to admit our lack of control.  We feel set adrift on a vast, dark ocean in a rowboat.  But our perceptions are the issue, not our lack of control.  If we could, in a moment, consider the marvelous nature of life; its progression, change, and interrelatedness with the rest of creation.

I’m not advocating the rejection of common sense.  I’m not advocating harmful recklessness.  Nor am I advocating that anyone should operate outside the rules of culture in which they live and make a living.  In other words, render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but perhaps try in small steps to begin letting go of the illusions of control that bring a false sense of comfort within your own life.

I’m talking about the possibility and potential inherent in the moment.  I am talking about the release of the paradigm.  The confining paradigm that works against the notion that any given moment is beautiful in its own right, full of complex shifts between good and bad, the latter producing infinite benefits if one could only embrace the lesson.  I’m talking about approachability, sensibility, respect, and compassion.  So that every individual you meet and moment you experience is not merely factored, measured, and sized up, but rather embraced as the natural infusion of force in which we all play part.  Respect the journey, not for its measurability, but its immeasurable and untamed potentialities.  In this, the moments within the journey become recognized as awesome blessings  🙂

 

*image courtesy of:  http://www.cumberlandchurch.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/control.gif *