2022-07-05 Grief (2 of 5) Elements of Grief
3:15PM Jul 5, 2022
Welcome to the second talk on grief, a topic and state of being that can be very difficult. And also can be very deeply connected to our love and the depths of who we are and what we think is important in this life. So it's a very important topic to be able to learn how to be present for and recognize and then get under the surface of to see more clearly. And grief is not an enemy or grief is not an illness or a problem. Grief is part and parcel of a human life, and becoming wise about it. And knowing how to deal with grief is one of the great benefits of mindfulness practice. So I'm defining grief, as the pain is see the pain arising in the emptiness born from loss. The pain that arises in the emptiness born from loss. And this definition, I'm hoping will span all the different ways in which griefs are experienced. Because there's an infinite number of ways that grief is sometimes it's more emotional, sometimes it's more physical, sometimes it's more relational in nature. And there's all kinds of very different cultures grieve in different ways, different ways, different people, different cultures experience the pain of loss in different ways. But because it involves a loss, that loss means there now an emptiness and an absence of something. And that absence, that emptiness, can be huge. Some people feel it's so huge that it you know, nothing will ever fill it again, and will always be in this great vacuum or great place of meaningless or loneliness or loss. But the bigger that emptiness is, the bigger that absence is. That actually the more it gets filled, and it gets filled with many, many things. And part of mindfulness practice is to begin to enter into this world of this emptiness, to be able to see clearly, what is it that feels the emptiness that we're in? What is it that the characterizes this pain, this discomfort that comes with loss? And, and so, rather than taking it as being a singular thing, my grief, we can put a little question mark after it. What is this? Maybe we don't really know the grief. So what is this grief, and to sit with it to be with it not so much to investigate to think about it, but rather to enter into grief as if it's a temple or sacred spot or place where we enter into quietly, peacefully, non assertively without our needs without our demands and their wants, but to really be present in the middle of this emptiness, to make space and room for what's there. And then to see all the different elements of it. And one of the key things to think about or that I think I find helpful, is to not give a lot of preferential treatment, to the world of thinking, to thoughts and stories and memories and meanings that we assigned to the situation, but rather to be entering into this emptiness, and start seeing there is stories, There are meanings, there are
thoughts, ideas, associations there. Those are they're a part of the big picture, including the emotions and the feelings and to begin seeing making space for all the component parts. Grief is a composite of many different pieces and parts. Some of them come are very personal. Some of them are cultural. Some of them are come from our life experience. Some of them come from our hopes and aspirations that we have that have been maybe been the rug has been pulled away from them. And so to begin to see the different people enter into this carefully and mix space and quietude. To really recognize, oh, this is what's happening, make space for it. And to become quiet, the thinking mind can become quiet in the relationship to grief. And this is not easy, but it's probably one of the most respectful things to do to really make room for our the natural or inner process of our body has for being with grief and allowing grief, it's space and it's time. So, to be able to kind of begin understanding the component parts of grief, I want to talk a little bit about what these might be. And one of them is to appreciate the kind of grief it is, are the source of the grief. So some grief is very relational in nature, and has to do with the relationship that has been severed and lost, like there's been a death, death of a parent or a child or a spouse, a sibling or friend. And that relationship was so important. And so there's a lot of lot about that relationship that comes into play with the grief, there might be a divorce, and a lot about that relationship comes into play with a grief. And and that relationship is what is the emptiness is the loss of the of the you know, the the loss that is created the absence. And so to understand that the quality of relatedness that's lost no longer there or is lost or is, is other kinds of grief are more functional, that isn't so much a relationship with another person. But we've losing our abilities. So there's a grief about aging when we get older, and some of many of our abilities become less and less. And there's a grief from an accident that some abilities, we have functions, we have no longer work and we've lost, maybe we've been paralyzed by something and and we'll never be able to do things we did before because our body doesn't function the same way. And so the loss of functioning of abilities that we've had, there's the loss of roles, that sometimes people retire, they've lost the role that was so important for who they were, children leave home and the role of being a parent is no longer there. And it's that's the grief of not being able to care take care of someone or have breakfast ready for someone, you know that and there's a someone dies, and part of the grief is not the loss of the relationship, or is it a loss of the relationship, but another part of it is now we can't have that role, the caregiver of the lover, or the friend of someone, which was so valuable for such an important part of our, our identity, who we were. And then there's more clearly the identity itself. That being some person isn't, you can't be that person anymore. When this kind of loss has gone away, and not the way that you experienced it before, to a loss of identity loss of who you thought you were and who you thought you were going to become. That you know spouse dies, and you expected that you'd be in retirement together or traveling around the world or playing bridge or doing something with your spouse. Now this this the spouse is gone and the anticipated futures are not alone, no longer there. Some people are grieving last futures, lost anticipated ideas of what was going to come, but also lost the identities of who we were going to be.
We lost we lose material goods, we might lose all our money in a stock market crash. And our identity as someone who is financially stable or secure or even wealthy is gone or our identity as someone who can do certain things that requires money goes away and and so it's a loss of grieving the identity grieving loss. And then there's loss of material goods. All kinds of you know boasting of wealth, like I said, money but losing valuable piece of property that we have or losing our financial security or losing our home that we've had for many times there's a divorce and we lose something that was so important for us. So these are all different kinds of losses that come into play when people can experience grief around these things. and some of these griefs are very personal in nature, and some of them are more social and interpersonal in nature, there's a pretty personal and interpersonal quality to it. Some of them. So for example, the personal is an individualistic culture, like maybe the United States, many people are not living in a rich, dynamic social, sphere of family or clan, or tribe or different things. And so there's a loss, maybe a couple has been living together alone, they're old, and, and maybe, you know, there's no one who's taking care of them particularly. And so when a person dies, and it isn't, now they're part of a rich network of family and the clan, tribe. And so the grief is very individualistic, very alone. And so Greece can be very lonely, other popular people who might be living in a extended family and a compound or a town or village or a tribe, and the elder of the tribe dies. The grief is very social, it's collective. It's something that everyone shares, and the social dynamic of the village has changed with the staff and, and people that the whole social social world began shifting and changing. And so grief takes a very different form. Then when it's not so lonely, it's it's collective. When it's collective, it's more cultural. And there's cultural aspects that come into play with how we grieve. And so there's so grief is composite, it's made up of many different things. Grief is not a singular thing, though each powerful grief that we experienced might seem like this is the end of the world, this is it, that you know, this is the thing you know, that is so huge, and how could anything ever be the same again, but to enter into the world of our grief, maybe in meditation, and let the mind become quiet. This is one of the gifts or the approaches of the meditation world life. And that is to enter into what's difficult, be present for it. But don't let thinking get the upper hand, but to feel and sense and begin allowing the pieces of it, to show itself and to be recognized and be known. Some very different things can happen in with grief, when we're not churning and thinking and spinning, and living in the thoughts and the ideas and the histories and the memories and, and the ideas. But they become quiet. quieting the stories. The stories are important. But there's another way. So in these few words, I have this 15 minutes, I hope that that this has given you something to consider that in the emptiness of grief, we fill it with many, many things, and to sit quietly in the middle of it. So all the different component parts can be recognized. And that which is extra, those pieces of the component parts of grief, which are not needed, can quiet and settle. And some of that has to do with the stories we tell ourselves and the meanings we assign to grief. And that'll be the topic for tomorrow. So thank you, and care for yourself well, and think of mindfulness of however you are and as mindfulness as a powerful way of protecting yourself caring for yourself, loving yourself
by not asserting your desires and needs on top of yourself. But rather to listen deeply to respect here. So thank you