Grief is becoming a doorway into deeper freedom, belonging…
Fire&Water voices, particularly Quanita, community mama I’ve written about recently, invite this path. Grief arose in conversation with my folks this weekend, instigating my forgotten impulse to send a file I’d compiled several weeks back. A dear Princeton seminary colleague (note: institutional-affiliation to which I don’t usually append ‘dear’) invited me into an event laid upon his heart months ago: a time for grieving mothers to be held, heard, and seen on the annual Mother’s Day weekend. His journey into compassion opened his heart specifically for mothers facing loss-children with mental illness struggles-tragedy. I had compiled Christian, Buddhist, and psychological materials to share with their/our eldering-circle, to expand awareness to the more of grief, beyond death/dying/end of life.
I recognize that grief has often spurred my own urgency on the page, as a writer. My dissertation was wholly instigated by grief, losing a significant mentor in my MDiv days due to AIDS–David Weadon, Choral Director, organist in NYC Riverside. Most of my feminine-awakening journey has been spurred by a deep sense of loss, overwhelming grief cloaked in the emotional field with which I’m more familiar: anger, even rage. Whenever something overwhelmed my capacity to feel loss, I’d simply approach the page, writing until the words were spent. [note: this blog is therefore called “Hess-Condensed,” where I limit words to 500; other blogs on my site, available on the Projects Page, go the lengths my grief/anger required. Enter at own risk.]
Martin Prechtel, in his The Smell of Rain on Dust, offers the best (poetic) overview, worthy of extended muse-time. Of the 26 bullet-point descriptions of grief, the one that strikes me today?
Grief permeates life and grieving can take many forms, but grief can never be outrun or simply thought away, transcended or meditated into nonexistence. Necessary grief when shunned or unattended can easily hide for years, even generations, in the skeletal structure of the family collective psyche. … [G]rief will eventually manifest even among those in the future who did not consciously experience the loss.
Without shame, blame, or guilt, I’ll simply observe that my family lineages do not know how to grieve. Our strategies are encased in a deep stoicism inherited over generations (whom I love and am thankful for), culturally steeped in whiteness. We are a farm people, many of whom have become intelligentsia, out of touch with deep feeling...so to self-protect, to minimize suffering by putting our sense of loss into service.
Except I no longer think this minimizes suffering. It just goes underground, for the next generation to tend, transform. Rohr’s words: Whatever is not transformed is transmitted. Out of touch with our own losses, we disconnect from others in theirs.
My heart aches with ungrieved losses and old stories of disconnection…so with my grandmother (of blessed memory), as she practiced on her then-new computer, I’ll say:
“I’m not very good at this yet, but I will get better.”