“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” – Rumi
Grief can be a dark and heavy word. I was responding on Facebook to a friend’s loss recently, and it hit me. Just as people in my youth didn’t have to contend with social media to add to embarrassments, just as friendships in the past were either in person or possibly as pen pals, dealing with grief and all its darkness was much different twenty or thirty years ago. We might have grieved publicly for a few days and then retreated to navigate the darkness alone. Today, though, our struggles might remain on display for a long time. As difficult as it can be for the world to comprehend, social media might provide a better way for all of us to find healing: in the open, in the light, instead of hidden away and forgotten. Grief can be a dark and heavy word.
Let me be the first to admit that your grief, those of you who have mountains of grief, sometimes makes me uncomfortable, and it isn’t because I’m not sympathetic. I have grief of my own, and sometimes it is all I can handle. I don’t always know what to do with added grief. As I thought about my friend’s grief, which was not uncomfortable for me, only very sad, I thought about how many times the extended grief of someone else can feel awkward for us. In fact, I’m guessing it makes those grieving feel awkward, as well.
The grief which I think is one of the greatest is from a death, especially a sudden death. There are places to turn, though, without ever leaving the house. On Facebook alone, you can find Grief Beyond Belief, Grief Notes, Grief The Unspoken, Grief Awareness Coach, Grief Haven, Grief Bites, and my personal favorite “Tom Zuba Teaches A New Way to Do Grief.”
Tom Zuba lost his toddler daughter to a disease, then he lost his wife to a different disease, and then he lost his teenage son to a brain tumor. Left with one son, in his grief Zuba has found a wound where the light has entered him. That light has allowed him to help many people with his words, with his willingness to open up and share the sadness that could have destroyed him. Grief can be a dark and heavy word and a dark and heavy feeling.
Social media has provided a platform, an outlet, for grieving people. It provides a place for people to share with others who understand what they are going through. It also provides a place where the rest of the world moves on and through words or the absence of words leaves a sad person to feel alone.
One of my friends lost a son several years ago, and I happened to have many photos I had taken of him when he was in school. For so long, I hesitated to share those pictures. I don’t want to upset them by reminding them, I thought. Then it occurred to me, I love to hear stories about my daddy and would love to see any pictures that might be out there of him.
You see, on the first and second and third anniversaries of my daddy’s death, my mother and I tried not to remind the other of the date for fear it would be upsetting on an otherwise happy day. We finally recognized that we both knew what day it was, and we both missed him (I’m sure my brother did, too, but he tends to not be as outwardly emotional as we), so we now speak about what day it is, and we are fine. He died on May 27, 1996, and I still miss him very much. I have chosen to share the photos of the young man several times. Grief can be a dark and heavy word, a heavy feeling, and an opening to light that is incredibly healing.
Grief isn’t always about a physical death, though.
- Finding yourself paralyzed when you had hopes of an athletic career brings grief.
- Realizing that the dreams you had for a perfect life are not happening the way you had envisioned brings grief.
- Experiencing a spouse or parent leaving you brings grief.
- Discovering that the things you once did with ease have become unmanageable brings grief.
- Leaving behind beliefs you never thought to question brings grief.
Grief is a funny thing. If you are reading this and have not lost a pet, a sibling, a parent, a friend, a child, or a spouse, you might not feel like you can relate. If you’re a parent whose child has never made a bad choice or a bad grade, or if you have achieved all you dreamed of, you might not feel like you can relate to my words, but save these words because one day you’ll experience grief and say “Wow, I know just what she meant!”
Grief brings people together. I think that is one of the nicest things about social media and the internet in general: bringing like-minded people together virtually and often literally, which leaves less people feeling lonely and ostracized.
In loss, there is grief. In grief, there is darkness. In any dark situation, if you stop to think about it, there is an opening to let in the light. Allow yourself to find joy and hope in that light, instead of allowing the dark to continue to draw you to it.