Monday, September 21, 2020

Random home photos and the question that heals

The other day I got a chance to hear a beautiful conversation.

I was in a group being led by a yoga teacher- therapist named Wendy.

And a woman who had lost her husband of 43 years was talking about how she didn't know how to live without him. I've known him for almost my whole life, she said, and I don't know who I am now. I feel so lost without him. I keep wanting him next to me. 
Why? Why can't I let go, I know he's gone... but I just can't accept it. 

Listening to this woman from behind my Zoom screen was strangely more powerful than seeing her face. Who was this tiny voice out in the world, opening up and sharing her most tender feelings?  I could feel the rawness of her words and my heart instantly softened.

The yoga therapist was so gentle and kind--she had lost her own baby boy years ago--and at the right moment in this conversation, she reassured this grief-stricken woman that everything she said was so normal. This is simply our humanness, she reminded her, reacting to our heartbreaking loss. Of course we want them back--of course we want their physical bodies right next to us again. Of course your heartache feels unbearable at times.

She talked about the "dance" we all do when we're struggling to get out of a dark time in our lives. It's always three steps forward and a couple steps back. 

And I don't know why. 

Maybe because I had just limped past the heaviness of Patrick's September 15th angel-versary date, but I found this dance of healing to be a beautiful analogy. And so true. 

(Today, where are you? If you're a few steps back don't be discouraged. I'll wait for you)

Then Wendy offered the sort of words that were tinged with her own familiarity with suffering and healing.  

She said, "I know it's hard. I can feel the enormity of your hurt when I lean into your loss."

".....when I lean into your loss."


Can we all just stop and think about that comment for a second?

My first thought was, how brave. Wendy wasn't simply listening to this woman's grief like some interested observer, but she was willing to open her heart up to the intensity of this woman's emotions. And even allow herself to feel the impact of this woman's sorrow.

As a former therapist I know this can be tricky, especially for women who are sensitive care-taker types. This example happened to be in a class on grief with a trained teacher, but what happens in real life when someone is emotionally distraught, how do you react?

Maybe the idea of leaning-in toward somebody's intense grief is totally uncomfortable. That's ok too. 

On thing I did find interesting. After each person had a chance to speak from her heart and have Wendy respond, she then lead the group (who only listens) in what she calls a "falling-out" breath. 

I hadn't heard of this before.

This falling out breath is simply a deep inhale and long exhale that's intended to be a physical release of the other person's emotional energy. So our bodies aren't unconsciously taking on all that emotion. 

And it's also a way that Wendy is teaching healthy boundaries, showing you that in the face of intense feelings you can listen and be fully present and compassionate without walking away feeling the other person's turbulent feelings inside your "tense" shoulders.

Maybe you might try this after an intense conversation.

By the way, I used to love the month of September. 

Everything about it. The changing colors of the leaves, the scent of wetness in the cool mornings, the giddy energy that came with a new school year. And of course, to me September was the official beginning of all the holidays and traditions that I so adored.

How bizarre that September 15th should be the day.

Although I've stopped asking "Why?"

Or worse yet, "Why me?"

Because--believe me dear friends--these are the questions that will keep you chained inside a pit of grief. 

These days I've discovered the One Question that invites awareness and healing is, What am I supposed to be learning from this?



What have you been learning lately?

I would love to hear.

Abundant blessings,

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