Good Grief…Is There Any Other Kind?
Have you noticed that I haven’t written one of my regular Yes2Yes messages lately that I always time to inspire you with some interesting life experience? I’ve missed our communication but I’ve been unusually quiet for the last few months with good reason.
Front Row Seat to Heaven
My beloved — and feisty — mother, Clara, passed away on July 29th at 97 years of age. I was by her side during her final days and wouldn’t have missed those moments for the world. My sister and I were amazed witnesses to such a personal and moving transition. As the hospice nurse reminded us: “You two have front row seats to heaven.”
Walking My Talk
The truth is… I’ve been in a sort of hermit mode since the funeral. It’s been an intense time for my own recalibration. As a coach, I have mindfully walked the talk I give others on dealing with difficult challenges and embracing new opportunities. I have a new appreciation for what recalibration does for one’s spirit. It surprises us with some new ways of being — a way that is completely different than before — and one that will never be the same again.
Having emerged from my cocoon, I want to share my intimate story with you. Believe me when I say this — I am taking a big risk to stick my neck out of my comfort zone. I know I would surely feel far safer circling the tribe and retaining the experience with those few closest to me.
There is much suffering and grief in this process. Damn, I can’t even write this without tears. I am grateful my mother had a long life being such a remarkable woman and role model to many. A number of characteristics make her stand out. She had a strong mind, showed great leadership and created a lasting legacy through a children’s library she founded at the church she loved. But the grief doesn’t seem to care about all those details. It just vibrates this void like some huge Tibetan bell whose waves linger long after the bell’s been rung.
A Treasured Gift
Yet, I’m purposely sharing my grief with you because I believe my mother’s death has been a great gift, not only for me, but for you.
Come on, now, really? Losing your mother, a gift? Well, I didn’t say it was only joy. For sure, there is plenty of sorrow to go around.
Still, her death is a gift indeed. I write in the midst of my grieving to let you know how beautiful — and good — grief is and should be. We avoid it. We don’t know what to say around it. We sanitize our children from it. We numb ourselves to it when it is far removed. And I think that’s all very sad.
Grief Is Good
You know that grief is good because:
- It ruthlessly reminds us what is important — and what is sheer idiocy (for which I have decidedly less tolerance for now, and will practice vehemently to sustain).
- You unquestionably know that there is more to this life than our bodies and minds. There is spirit. The divine. And surely no fear.
- It forces you to wake up, at least for a moment, to your own mortality. In that moment, you realize that life is indeed much too short. It’s as if someone cleaned your windshield smeared with layer after layer of dirt so you can finally see the landscape around you and make some sense of this world. And for a few glorious moments, you really do know what life is all about.
What I Want You to DO
Go home and to work and BE who you ARE. DO what you are here to DO. LEAD what you are meant to LEAD just like Clara did. Start and volunteer with an organization for over 40 years till you can’t go up and down stairs. Visit the sick and dying even when you don’t have any idea what to say. Organize an annual spiritual retreat. Take your grandchildren to your library so they can see what contribution is all about. Take your family on special outings like to New York City so they won’t forget amazing trips together. Go to the beach often. Watch endless sunrises and sunsets. Visit Italy even when you can’t see well and have to be guided and even caught when you falter. Ride roller coasters into your 70’s. Eat gelato while it’s melting — and peanut butter on a spoon straight from the jar even when someone is watching. Make others laugh, even when you are in pain. And above all, tell them you love them in dramatic fashion. So they really know you mean it.
This is the recalibration lesson that I’ve gradually come to teach myself. And it has given me such goose bumps that I knew I had to share it with you immediately. That’s how good my grief is right now.