If you’re a fan of a certain TV show, or have half an eye on social media, last Friday brought all of us a beautiful and poignant way of capturing loss: “What is grief, if not love, persevering?”

The writer of the line, scriptwriter Laura Donney, reminds us of the importance of knowing that we’re not alone by articulating something so painful, so personal, and yet so universal; the enduring pain of grief.

I’m not sure that, as a society, we’re terribly good at talking about loss. Seeing another in emotional pain can leave many of us feeling uncomfortable, more out of a lack of knowing how best to respond (and fear of saying or doing something to make things worse) than any malice.

So having someone give language to an experience which so many of us struggle with on our own is a true gift. The line reaches across the expanse of aloneness we all feel when we suffer the loss of someone we love – no matter what the circumstances, for grief is not reserved for death – and restores a sense of connection to the family of humanity.

Creating this shared container helps us to be with our losses. I’m reminded of a wonderful interview with Francis Weller, in which he makes this powerful observation;

“We have this projection onto sorrow and grief as if it is some depressed state, but it only becomes that way because of our avoidance. We become oppressed by the weight of all the unexpressed grief in our lives.”

Being able to express that grief – for the loss of a loved one, for a way of life, for lost hopes and dreams, for lost time (especially during the pandemic, which can feel like a constant series of both big and small losses to mourn, many related to the time we’re unable to recover) – helps to stop it becoming something hard and rigid within us.

Because I have this sense, inspired by the late John Wellwood, that unexpressed grief calcifies into grievance.

So many times – in myself and others – I can feel the rough, unyielding yet innately brittle carapace of anger and blame covering unheld and unattended grief and sadness. It can be a courageous act to sit with the feelings that challenge us deeply, as much a call to growth as it is a call for protection; when my own heart has been broken, it has felt ‘broken open’ as much as ‘broken apart’.

These are the pieces we can bring with us into our future, held together with gold, a future where new insights and understandings still await us; it’s arguable that time heals all wounds, but perhaps the passing of time can allow us to see once more the good things that any bad once obscured.

And when we can hold joy in one hand and grief in the other, we can be stretched large enough to embrace all that a rich and meaningful life has to offer.

Photo by Nguyễn Thanh Ngọc from Pexels

3 thoughts on “Love, persevering

    1. Ah, Yvonne – am so honoured you’ve read this post, as I can only guess at how it may have resonated with you. Sending so much love your way my dear friend xx

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