Can Grief Help us to Live our Lives More Fully?

“Grief dares us to love once more.”

Terry Tempest Williams

What does grief mean for each of us? Are we talking about loss, when we think of grief? Is the loss of a relationship comparable to the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one for instance?

There is no denying the intense pain experienced when a loved one dies. However, the loss incurred through the breakup of a long-term relationship may be experienced as just as traumatic for the individual experiencing it. As such, it is difficult to draw any generic demarcation lines for where these terms begin and end.

However, deeply felt grief and loss does have the ability to strip bear who we think we are and take us to a place that exposes us to our innate humanness. Our sense of fragility, that we too are mortal. It reminds us that despite all our goals and ambitions, we will have to let all of it go in the end.

In this sense grief has the ability to pull up from our depths, that which is most authentic in us, that which often asks us the most difficult questions in terms of who we are, how we have lived our lives and what is most important to us. It is through the experience of grief that we risk stepping into a place of facing who we think we are and acknowledging that this person may not be who we actually are. Without this awareness and willingness to be shaped by a larger truth in ourselves, we remain caught in patterns of avoidance and heroic striving.

Grief therefore, can open us to unexpected surprises in our lives. It can reconnect us to something larger than the mundane experience of our ego’s. This greater openness can also allow us to connect with a heartfelt quality of compassion for ourselves and the world we live in. Grief therefore can be seen as a threshold, that delivers us to the fundamental basis of what it means to be alive, a question that has the potential to connect us to the world in a fundamentally different way. In this sense, grief might be seen as the dark colour that helps to add depth to the canvas of our lives, providing contrast and texture. Without these differing tones and hues, our lives would feel dull and uninteresting (Wheller, 2015).

I am not suggesting here, that our lives should be lived being preoccupied with grief or sorrow, but rather to allow ourselves the means of facing these moments with presence and consciousness. In this way; to feel able to face everything that challenges us is the secret of being fully alive.

(Weller, F., 2015. The Wild Edge of Sorrow. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.)