• D

Why are Endings so Hard?


Dear Reader, I’ve been told that “why” questions are not good,

probably because answers to such questions are hard to come by. But

this is a good question, because it does have answers! So, why are

endings so hard? Let’s face it, endings just keep coming at us. With

enough understanding and patience, however, we might actually get

better at dealing with them!


I’ll share a favorite thought of mine: Sometimes the threads have no

weave. I see a picture of a mess of colored threads, all entangled in a

great pile. When grief comes knocking, our lives often look like this: a

great, confusing mess. We lose hope; we lose ourselves; we lose our

way. Why?


Dis-engagement


Our lives have been deeply interrupted. We can’t engage as we once

did. Our engagement with loved ones, friends, colleagues, work, and

life is no longer what it once was. Grief can shatter us, or just break

something in us that can’t be named, can’t be mended.


When my son died, I just couldn’t engage with this top-side world. I

had to get away; I needed a desert experience – alone. I needed to be

with the earth – on the earth – under the earth in a kiva. I needed to

feel something to accompany my grief. This was my only consolation.


Dis-mantled


Yes, dismantled. Everything seems to have come apart. There is no weave, no semblance of pattern or purpose. I’m tearful as I write this. I think that “dismantled” has to do with connection.


When I went to the desert of New Mexico, I was a ghost. I didn’t know

a soul. It was the perfect place for me, because I was only one of many

such ghosts. The Native people live in collective, historical grief. They

recognized me as one of them. Their grief, their skies, sacred

mountains and rivers held me together in some unfathomable way. We

were connected. There was a sense of belonging; a sense of

connection. I was understood without ever saying a word.


Dis-identification


So much grief has to do with the roles we play: mother, father, son,

daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister, lover, friend, director, job, and

so on. From these roles, we acquire an identification, a purpose for

being. When we lose that role, we lose a vital sense of who we are.

This is a huge aspect of grief; and it sets up a serious challenge to the

psyche.


And that’s what happened to me: my identification as “mother” was

truly damaged. Yes, I had other precious children, precious

grandchildren, but the way I identified myself in the world was through

motherhood. I felt that I had failed. I knew that I would never be the

same. It’s that mother and child thing. It’s about the roles. I’ve often

heard people say that a parent shouldn’t have to bury a child; it’s not

the natural order of things. Correct. I have to admit that this was the

hardest aspect to heal. It took the longest time before I could move

beyond this one.


Dis-enchantment


I’m curious about this aspect of grief. We work so hard to get our lives

ordered, right?! To get ourselves and everything outside ourselves just

the way we want them. Ha! When we get things just right, we are truly

enchanted. I love this word! We have a glow, a sense of outrageous

well-being. I remember that feeling!


But when that enchantment is dismantled, for whatever reason, we are

shaken to the core; and we realize that we have control over very little.

I’m just realizing that New Mexico is called “The Land of Enchantment”.

Wow. The one year that I spent there was something beyond time and

space; it was enchanted, and so was I. A lot of healing took place, and

my connection to Mother Earth was indelibly printed on my soul. But

coming back into the world, as I had to, was anything but enchanting.


Dis-orientation

Surely, you know this one. Nothing feels right anymore, and you don’t

know where to put your next step. When you consider all the “endings” of our lives, it’s like a stack of blocks, precarious and

unbalanced; and each of our endings are disorienting. Maybe it becomes a way of life. Not to worry.



As enchanting as my desert experience was, I always wondered if the

stars would ever appear again. And something began to loosen in me –

an attachment to the world. I began to find inner resources that I

didn’t even know were there. I began to write – to sort and process my

endings.


A wise man once said that “everything that comes your way is blessed”.

Let’s ponder that. We don’t like change; the brain doesn’t like change.

But we might consider that our endings do indeed offer us portals to

insight, a deepening, ineffable quality that makes us richer. In time.

Throughout this article, we’ve been looking at “dis” words – the prefix

that negates substantial root words. For our purposes, we might look

at another prefix: “re”. What I know for sure, is that life continues to

re-new itself. I love the positivity of this prefix. We all know that

nothing will every make up for what and who has been lost. There will

always be a hole – a gap.


Did you know that the beautiful Native people always leave a gap in

their weavings? It’s on purpose, and it points to the possibilities of re-

newal and re-entry. We’re speaking here about those portals of insight,

because our stories of grief can do the same thing. We absolutely CAN

re-engage in life. We CAN re-structure our lives. We CAN expand our

sense of identification and even re-invent it! We CAN find enchantment in

everyday beauty. And we CAN get ourselves oriented with purpose and

passion. Is it easy? No. This is why it’s called “griefwork”.


I suddenly find myself laughing out loud: remembering a time VERY

long ago when I was giving a talk – long before I knew a thing abut grief.

(I was still living in my happy bubble.) The point of my message at that

time had something to do with “positivity”, and I had placed some

pretty flowers in a can on the podium. The point seemed obvious to

me, but some dear-hearted fellow, unbeknownst to me, went searching

for a lovely vase, and tenderly offered it to me as a replacement for the

CAN. I want to say, stick with the cans. Truth and beauty don’t always

come in pretty vases.


So, is it true that “everything that comes our way is blessed”? There’s

no doubt that grief and loss do shape our lives, and what we do with

those losses is all up to us. We’re the creators of our well-being.

Maybe that’s the blessing.


I want to recommend a beautiful book by William Bridges,

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes


Celebrating 40 years of the best-selling guide for coping with life's changes, named one of

the 50 all-time best books in self-help and personal development -- with a new Discussion

Guide for readers, written by Susan Bridges and aimed at today's current people and

organizations facing unprecedented change


May you be at peace, GriefSpeak