Grief – A dish best served warm

We have all experienced grief. From the loss of a once loved possession, to the most devastating and heart-breaking of tragic losses like separation or death. There is no quick fix or easy way through it, but there are definitely some things that help.

Grief is most digestible and palatable to us when served warm. What I mean by this is that even though noone else can feel our pain for us or noone else can cry our tears for us, feeling loved and that others are near and care for us through it really, really helps.

When we are bereaved, the first stage of it is usually the shock. This is our first taste of grieving. It thrusts us from our former state into this new unchartered territory of loss. It is characterised in the early stages of the aftermath by those few moments when we awaken when we have not yet remembered, and then it lands with us, sinking into us. Depending on the magnitude of the loss, this shock can last anything up to a few months, even years. We may even try to hang onto this, because while we do we have not yet been exposed to the full extent of the grief. How to serve shock warm? We give ourselves space, we allow the alteration of our life, bit by bit, that the loss has brought, and we let the tears flow and allow the sorrow to flow away with them. We watch our urges to push people away, or run away and hide, or pull people closer but we don’t have to follow them. We can choose. After the shock begins to wear off, we can start to feel the waves of the pain of grief swelling up inside us. As we go through each ‘first’ occasion since the loss – birthdays, anniversaries, places, people things – all are to be experienced in this now altered fabric of life without the Beloved. And it is painful, many times over. It can at times feel relentless, as if we are not healing anything, not making any progress. The tides of grief bringing more and more waves of mourning, remembering, longing. How do we even begin to serve this warm? Love is the greatest healer we have, and we can all give it freely. But we often give love and support with conditions attached, especially to ourselves and this is when it stops feeling like love, and is no longer supportive. In this, our love for self is crucial. Herein lies our ability to keep ourselves warm, even in the depths of pain like grieving. When we heal a portion of pain, it leaves a space, a vacuum. And this vacuum will ask to be filled, like a hunger. The key to our recovery and healing of grief is to fill these spaces with the purest love that we can.

We can do this by calling to our sentience our most profound and beautiful experience of loving and being loved. This will comfortably sit parallel with the pain we are healing, ready to flow into the spaces left by our healing. Serving this warm happens in the patience we allow ourselves to find our way through it and in how softly we hold ourselves in compassion. Serving it warm is in quickly and quietly forgiving others that may be well intentioned in giving advice, but are not walking in our shoes and so don’t have to live with the consequences. With the warming, the melting pot of charged emotions of sorrow, sadness, anger, confusion begin to simmer and meta-physically become transformed by our healing. They become smaller and easier to digest, and eventually can become a ripple of emotion instead of a wave that floors us. We are forever altered by loss, there can be no doubt about that. It has the ability to bring us to our knees emotionally in a very short space of time. But we are incredible beings, with an in-built natural healing ability in the form of loving warmth, that we can use for ourselves, or give away to others when we have some to spare.

Emer O'Grady

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“Whenever you feel out of touch, sad, or like you are floundering, just stop in that moment and ask, “How may I serve?” Then reach out in any small serving capacity and notice how purposeful you feel.