There are times, as a counselor and specifically a counselor who specializes in grief and bereavement, I find myself thinking that somehow the grief process should be easier for me. That because I work with people every day on this issue and because I teach and study this topic so much, it should be a less painful, less messy, or simply easier.
I have the knowledge. I have the skills. I have the techniques and tools.
Yesterday, I was reminded, once again, that I also have the emotions. The sense of loss. The rawness of it.
My professional knowledge doesn’t protect me from the fullness of the grieving process. I just, perhaps, have slightly less resistance to allowing myself to move through it and more experience in knowing that it will lighten and shift and move through.
Yesterday afternoon I learned that someone in my spiritual community had passed. On one hand, you might say I didn’t really know him very well. I didn’t know many details about his life and I can’t say that I spent any real great lengths of time with him. However, in what I did know and what time I did spend with him, I felt a great connection and love for him. The times I did get to spend in his presence, I walked away with a sense of lightheartedness, humor, and kindness.
I remember him with love and sweetness and a playful sense of life. I am grateful for his presence in my life these last few years. My knowledge of life and death and how this adventure works is that he has simply moved on to another expression of life and another form of being. I find peace in knowing and remembering that.
At the same time, I feel profoundly sad. I feel a sort of rawness inside, a grief that speaks to the knowledge that I will not see or experience his presence in the same way again. There’s shock at the suddenness of his leaving. There is anger at the less than ideal way that I learned of his passing. There’s vulnerability at the reminder that anyone I love could leave at any time.
Gratitude and sadness. Love and grief. Peace and anger. Sweetness and vulnerability.
They come in waves of emotion. Sometimes all at once. All part of the process.
Today I remind myself to simply let the waves of emotion flow through me. Whatever I may be feeling, in the end, it’s all simply love.