You might remember when I talked about this painting before, from an artist perspective: Painting Nostalgia. This art has no video, and I’m relieved that it doesn’t. It was an emotional experience to paint this art of my parents’ wedding day. Both of my parents are deceased: one died young (age 37) and the other died older, but still too young. Both have been gone a long time.
We cannot choose if and when we’ll experience events that cause grief, but we can choose how we respond to it. The year 2021 has brought grief to all humankind worldwide. Grief doesn’t always come from the loss of a physical life, such as when a loved one dies. Sometimes we grieve the loss of the life we once had, as in the way that we used to live, and who we believed ourselves to be. We may not be that person any more and in a mental, emotional and spiritual sense, this is a death that the world is collectively grieving, whether aware of this or not.
When my dad died, people told me that he wouldn’t want me to be sad, he’d want me to be strong. He’d want me to go on with my life. And this was true, but the push for normalcy went too far and was dysfunctional. It was considered a badge of honor that I went to school as normal on the very day he died. He died at 2:00AM and I was on the school bus just hours later. Some of my students were shocked by this, and wondered if the rumor they’d heard that my father had passed away in the night wasn’t true. Why would I be in school if he had? Why, indeed.
I didn’t cry at his memorial service. I made it through the whole excruciating experience, which is a story for another day. Fortunately and blessedly for me, I also had people in my life who were concerned about my robotic reaction to the passing of my father, and encouraged the opposite: talk about what happened.
One of these occasions was when I was at a friend’s house and her study partner just happened to be there at the same time. My friend urged me to talk about Dad and I did, as an emotionless storyteller. But her study partner was full of emotion, so much so that he shed tears for me. This simple display of empathy touched my heart so deeply that I later asked my friend about her kind study partner.
My friend was delighted to play matchmaker and one thing led to another… that kind boy and I became high school sweethearts, and have been married for decades. The point of me sharing this is to illustrate how being open to reacting to grief in a healthy way can lead to something positive, perhaps so wonderful that it results in a permanent life change that will affect generations to come!
If I had remained closed and spiritually stubborn, I may have refused to answer my friend’s questions about my father- opting to say very little and change the subject. But questions were asked and I was open to answering them. That one simple decision led to everything that happened in my life, my husband’s life, and our children’s life since. Obviously without that moment, my children would not exist.
Now, I’m not going to promise you (or myself) that responding to 2021’s grief events in a positive, spiritually open way will impact generations to come, but it might. It will at least impact OUR lives for many years to come. What is your response to the changes that have come to you, to the changes in the world that you may not have expected or wanted? When our lives change, there is a grieving process- the bigger the change, the more profound the grief.
If you’ve been greatly impacted by 2021’s events that continue to unfold, how do you channel your fears, anxieties, and sorrow? Do you deny your situation, are you closed to it, are you walking around the best you can as if everything is normal? Or, are you open to hearing your own voice speaking the truth about what has happened?
We don’t have to rely on fate, serendipity or miracles to randomly drop into our lives, like an unexpected stranger appearing with our friend, who later becomes our spouse and parent to our children! No, we don’t have to rely on these rare events. We can manifest positive changes for ourselves, simply by choosing to be positive and strong. We can then act in ways to be that person: a strong and positive person.
Rather than abusing substances, feeding other types of addictions, or sliding into an apathetic, morose, state of inaction, we can channel our grief into positive actions. This past year I chose certain areas of my life that I had planned to develop but hadn’t committed to. I then committed to several projects and worked steadily to make these things happen.
One of the things I did was build up my immune system by creating something productive to do outside, like starting the garden I’d talked about but hadn’t yet done. A garden would improve my nutrition, push me to get more exercise, and I’d get my fifteen minutes of sunlight as well. What held me back was that we are currently renting a small house with only a patio area for a yard. I kept some flowers, but no food. I had no room for that.
But the limitations I placed on myself are nonsense! With enough determination I can overcome this challenge and plant an impressive garden on a small footprint. I knew this all along, but the truth is that I didn’t WANT that type of garden. I wanted one like I used to have before we had to sell our house. I didn’t want this “new normal”.
When I got over my spiritual and emotional stubbornness, I researched my options and committed to the investment of grow bags with handles. I can move them around and can even move them to our new house when that day comes. There is no excuse for not starting a garden, unless of course the real reason for not doing it is something else. Laziness? Apathy? An undisciplined lifestyle? Not really committed to change?
I’ve blogged quite a lot about my thriving garden that brings me great joy, with its greenery, food, and habitat for beautiful birds. So if you’ve been following me for a while, you know how this story ends: my garden is a positive lifestyle change that continues to evolve. One thing led to another and I’ve learned how to make my own spices, compound butter, tea, daily microgreen salads (it’s like an outdoor salad bar!), and other happy homesteading goodness that I never knew existed.
That’s just one area of positive change, and I could talk about it for many more paragraphs. But I’ll stop here. I only wanted to give one example of something we can do to change our lives and channel our grief into something positive, that may evolve into ever widening circles of change… good change. Life is changing, whether we want it to or not. When we direct how we want that change to go, we can manifest blessings from grief.