In my Vade Mecum, there’s a page titled “~ Grief,” the tilde giving it the top spot when the files are sorted alphabetically. Quick access.
The page begins with my “Hall of Allies”– a collage created as part of working with Megan Devine’s How to Carry What Can’t Fixed: A Journal for Grief. In the words of Devine:
“When grief makes the whole world go dark, it’s important to know who you can turn to—to know who’s there for you, emotionally and physically.”
My hall is lined with my chosen family, the people I know without a doubt that I could turn to: folks who have been in my life since I was 13 or 18 or as recently as the past five years. A couple are doctors from my mental health team. And a couple are my cats. Everyone is smiling or laughing, except for my cats. They are being totally judgy, but they’re cats, so that’s their love language. It’s fine.
The placement of the photos, like the sorting of the file itself, is intentional. A way to ground myself before working with grief. To remember that despite the intense loneliness of griefwork, I am not truly alone.
Today the grief is pervasive. It shifts my body into some liminal plane between floating and groundedness. I place my hands on my heart and breathe until I feel them solidly there, feel their warmth, feel my heart beating.
I breathe deeply, feel the air as it enters, follow it into my chest, down into my expanding lungs. Exhale, take the trip in the reverse. Just a few moments until the rest of my body becomes present as well.
Then I find my voice:
This is a moment of suffering.
Suffering is part of life.
May I be kind to myself in this moment.
May I give myself the compassion I need.
(from Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)