In memory of the 20 children and 6 adults who died in Newtown, Connecticut on 12/14/12:
It takes great courage to grieve. Grief asks us to be honest, open and vulnerable…to expose our underbelly and try to make sense of what is messy and feels out of control. It takes deep courage to share one’s story with their whole heart. It takes great courage to feel one’s pain and to learn to live in a new world, in a new way, without our loved one. Grief is such exhausting work!
You may feet abandoned and alone with your grief. You may feel as though you are on your own, trying to navigate this unknown territory by yourself. But what we all have in common, what we share, is an experience with love and loss. A sense of connection and community is what makes our grief bearable. Grief is what we all have in common.
You are part of a community that has loved and has grieved. Chances are, no matter when the death occurred, you are still grieving. While each of your losses is unique, and each one of you is the expert about your grief, you are connected and are in community. We all share the human condition of being vulnerable, and that is what connects us at the deepest level.
Each heartache is unique and none of it is “common”, but we all have much in common. You grieve because you have loved. You feel pain because you felt connection.
All grief needs to be blessed, and in order to be blessed, it must be heard. Someone must be present for your expression of grief, someone who is willing to hold your feelings and your story by listening without judgment or comparison. When you wail or tell the story of your loss, it is based on your need that your loss not go unnoticed. We need to know that the death of a loved one will not be overlooked, and that our loved one’s place and significance in the world will be marked. Grief is an expression that validates our loved one’s existence in the world, and acknowledges that she or he mattered.
Death does not get to take away the love you feel, or the connection you have with your loved one. Death does not win. We live with our grief, but we carry it with love. We hold on. We take our loved one forward into the future with us, into our life. We do not forget. We do not “get over it”. We get on with it.