Yesterday my therapist read this quote below to me after I shared a story about a “loss” that I more recently experienced. I spoke about how even though I was feeling sad, I genuinely felt a sense of appreciation for the experience. The experience, despite the loss, gives me hope despite the sadness felt, and for this I feel gratitude and it further opens me up to life. Hurdles, hardship, and heartbreak are inevitable – like the first Noble Truth talks about, dukkha.
I loved the quote she shared with me so much that I looked it up online, and now want to share both the quote and an article that included it.
The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That is how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps that heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible. – Francis Weller
As we all individually cope with the different losses in our lives and while we witness countless grief in the world amidst the political and racial turmoil in our country and our world, it’s easy to wallow and inwardly suffer. Allowing for grief, pain, and sorrow to be held supports our well-being. It creates an environment where the many feelings we have as humans are normalized and where we learn healthy ways to embrace and sort through them, rather than shame and shield them, often leading us to turn to unhealthy ways of coping. We all hurt. We all experience loss, We can almost look at grief similar to big “T” trauma and little “t” trauma, as loss is not just a death, and even small “l” losses matter. Loss can look and feel different to all of us. It’s human.
The important part, as Weller mentions, is to also find room for gratitude. To hold grief, expand gratitude, and create compassion. Balancing our sorrow with gratitude gives us hope, and I believe hope dies last.
What losses have impacted you. What helps you to cope with expressing loss. Have you tried feelings and needs identification? Do you create space for gratitude to also be spread out alongside it.
The Geography of Sorrow article can be found by clicking here. I also own Weller’s book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, which also comes highly recommended by my therapist – I just need to read it! There is a growing pile of books to read going on over here!