Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break. ~William Shakespeare
I am always reading about grief-to help others, to help myself, to learn what it means to truly grieve and step into it bravely and not cower away. Someone recently commented after watching a TV interview about In the Cleft that I am grieving too much. Yes, I thought, you are right-most definitely you are right. I am grieving too much. But, I’m healthy, I love other people, I care about injustice, I wake up every day and see beauty around me. Yet, in the midst of it all I grieve. That is my right. Joy and grief kiss each other. Pain is what makes joy more sacred and beautiful. Beauty is more poignant because I have walked through the fire of adversity. To know your heart, the fullness of its expression, is to be true to yourself. If you’re sad, feel it deeply. If you’re joyful, let it burst out without limits. The worst condition of all is numb apathy. I’ve been there too and that’s the condition that scares me most.
I was reading some articles by grief expert Alan Wolfelt and one in particular impressed me. His articles can be found at http://centerforloss.com
He says, “As a bereavement caregiver, I am a companion, not a “guide” (which assumes knowledge of another’s soul I cannot claim). To companion our fellow human beings means to witness and learn as opposed to playing the “expert.” Wolfelt’s 11 tenets of companioning the bereaved are as follows:
- Companioning is about honouring the spirit; it is not about focusing on intellect.
- Companioning is about curiosity; it is not about expertise.
- Companioning is about learning from others, it is not about teaching.
- Companioning is about walking alongside; it is not about leading or being led.
- Companioning is about being still; it is not about frantic movement forward.
- Companioning is about the discovering the gifts of sacred silence it is not about a filling every painful moment with talk.
- Companioning is about listening with the heart. It is not about analyzing with the head.
- Companioning is about being present to another person’s pain; it is not about taking away or relieving the pain.
- Companioning is about respecting disorder and confusion; it is not about imposing order and logic.
- Companioning is about going to the wilderness of the soul with another human being; it is not about thinking you are responsible for finding the way out.
I appreciate and give thanks to Alan Wolfelt for the work he is doing in changing how people look at grief and mourning.
I would love to hear your thoughts and stories. Please feel free to share in the comment section below. We have so much to learn from each other.