Surrendering to grief involves diving deeply into your memories and understanding that there will be longing and feelings of loss from broken promises and unfulfilled dreams.
Rituals from my marriage come back at unexpected moments. One that still lingers is the memory of taking off my ski boots just outside the door of our home in Telluride, Colorado, as our dogs feverishly licked my nose. Remembering that ritual after the jump, after leaving my marriage, and months (and years) after seeing my dogs for the last time, flooded me with the sensation of loss. The dogs became a symbol of my past. I was not just divorced; I was dog-less.
Sometimes the emotions were overwhelming. The grief was confusing to me at first. I knew it wasn’t about wanting to go back, but it was still intense. Soon I discovered that when I allowed those visceral reminders to be there, I could more easily move through the emotions and emerge without fighting with them. When I fought, on the other hand, the feelings seemed to linger and fester. It took much more work to hold my painful emotions at bay than it did to let them flow. It was, in a way, a “core dump” of emotions.
Honoring your grief is akin to honoring your resistance, but there’s a subtle difference: Grief is just a feeling; it isn’t a setback. It’s a passing visitor. Unlike resistance, which will do anything to keep you from moving forward, grief simply wants to be felt. Once again, its presence doesn’t necessarily mean that you have chosen wrong. It doesn’t mean you jumped prematurely or didn’t jump far enough. No matter when you jump, you will have some grief. And sometimes, it will be intense.
But you can’t let go of something that you haven’t fully felt, so there’s nothing to do but let the grief come. The only way you can truly say goodbye to anything is to allow everything you feel about it to be fully felt. This isn’t the same as wallowing in your pain; it’s about allowing your feelings to have their say. No graceful exit can happen until you accept what has been.
There’s a fine line between memory and baggage, however. You do have to eventually let go of whatever you’ve been holding onto. This doesn’t mean you won’t still occasionally have painful memories.
If you want to heal old relationship wounds and patterns to create new, healthy connections, I’ll be teaching with David Kessler and Paul Denniston August 25-27 at Kripalu. Click HERE for more information.