The stars are not wanted now, put out every one
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
I was led back … well, more like dragged, silently kicking and screaming …. by one of our most-well-liked member’s current trials, into thoughts of grief and loss, and how to cope (any way you can) and deal (whatever works, and don't be looking all judgy, mmm-kay?), and what works (who knows, it’s going to be different for each of us), and what doesn’t (see “ … what works ….” ), especially when the circumstances of that grief are on-going, and they’re of the most deeply serious, heart-skewering kind ….
I’ve had a full roster of grief and loss and pain, and dealing with it and not dealing with it, and facing it and hiding from it, as so many of us here have (revealed touchingly in the comments on @Rufous Mckinney’s thread), and while I don’t set myself up as an expert (only God or maybe the Dalai Lama can claim that title, tho many others try), I’m also not a neophyte or a disinterested second or third party. Been there, done that, don't like it, still recovering. And so are all of you out there that I know well enough to make that assumption about. Grief is a life-long, on-going exercise in painful growth and spiritual development, and creating a new schematic that somehow allows you to survive the pain and floundering loss. And like all of life’s important lessons, it comes at a fearsome price.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood
For nothing now can come to any good — W. H. Auden
It feels a lot like fear, with that twisting in the stomach, the remembered rebuff that you would give anything to take back, except that now it’s carved in stone, memorialized for all time, at least in your head and heart (which really is the only place that counts) … the words not spoken, or the words spoken in haste and anger that burn in your brain like a poker, or words of dismissal that sound harsher and far harder in memory than they did when you, thoughtlessly, almost absentmindedly, uttered them …
And grief often takes away the joy of remembering, because that irreplaceable 'other', the one that shared all those memories with you, is gone, and without them to resonate with you to those magical conjurings, the memories are only half-formed, half real, as tho part of the remembering has been slyly spirited away and and given back to you as something darker, more haunting, not quite right like a bad Twilight Zone, something no longer as amusing or warming or enlightening, something sometimes more like a sharp knife, carving up your heart. Again.
And as usual, Shakespeare had the right idea ….
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak
Hard as it is, raw and painful as it is, as private and personal as it feels, grief has to be shared. First, it has to be wept and wailed and cried out, and then spoken, or written, or shouted from the rooftops, or danced, or painted, or knitted into a warm winter sweater or a cozy afghan, or crocheted into a lacy table cloth or shawl, or turned into a lavishly blooming garden. Whatever.
Without something to absorb it and transmute it, it takes you over. It changes you in ways that you don’t want to be changed. It will alter and twist your sense of self and safety and protection against the inevitable inclement emotional weather that will toss you around, like a boat in a hurricane, then dump you onto a rocky beach, or into a deep, dark, stagnant lagoon where the sun never shines and nothing grows …. except the snakes and alligators and some stuff that looks like oddly shaped mushrooms, but could be .... spiders ???
Shared, it becomes a bond, a fragile new memory, not one that will magically erase the pain and grief and burning regret, but that instead will turn it into a series of new memories, new sharings, new fragile contacts with people who previously were strangers, but who now tell you that they understand what you’re going thru, and are willing to honor it with you, and in that process, share their own griefs and sorrows and secret wounds and scars.
It's ultimately the rawest, harshest, most stripped-to-the-bone human emotion that we'll experience, and like all fragile emotions, locked away, it grows tentacles and fangs and rot. Shared, it grows wings with darkly beautiful iridescent feathers, capable of carrying you, not away from grief, but into a new understanding of it.
Maybe that’s why the raven and the crow, with their black, subtly iridescent purple, wine, and deep navy-blue feathers have become symbols for death and sorrow and loss. And in many spiritual disciplines, for its healing opposite: transformation. Learning to open ourselves to the searing darkness of that pain, and to others suffering thru the same endless night, and letting ourselves give in to it, share it, and perhaps simultaneously learn how to navigate it and gradually heal, at least to the extent that the depth and breadth and height of that loss can be healed. And it can.
Just not always all the way ....
knits up the o-er wrought heart
and bids it break ― William Shakespeare
Your memory feels like home to me.
So whenever my mind wanders,
It always finds its way back to you ― Ranata Suzuki