later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
— Warsan Shire
In our culture we are often too busy to truly lament and allow ourselves to experience grief for the suffering in our world. In our rush to fix problems, we neglect to give space and time for our wounds to teach us. Tears and rituals can help us process our subconscious, unnameable feelings.
— Richard Rohr
(from Daily Meditation – Sunday, November 8-Saturday, November 14, 2015)
On Grief and Grieving
When a loss hits us,
we have not only the particular loss to mourn
but also the shattered beliefs and assumptions
of what life should be.
These life beliefs must be mourned separately.
Sometimes we must grieve for them first.
We can’t grieve the loss if we are in the midst of
“It’s not supposed to happen this way” . . .
We intellectually know that bad things happen ~
but to other people, not us,
and certainly not in the world we assumed we were living in . . .
Your belief system needs to heal and regroup as much as your soul does.
You must start to rebuild a new belief system from the foundation up,
one that has room for the realities of life
and still offers safety and hope for a different life:
a belief system that will ultimately have a beauty of its own
to be discovered with life and loss.
Think of a lifeless forest in which a small plant
pushes its head upward, out of the ruin.
In our grief process, we are moving into life from death,
without denying the devastation that came before.
— Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler from On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss
The Sacred Wound
Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing—that we must go down before we even know what up is. It is first an ordinary wound before it can become a sacred wound. Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to destabilize our arrogance and our ignorance. I would define suffering very simply as “whenever you are not in control.”
All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion. It is no surprise that a crucified man became the central symbol of Christianity.
If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter—because we will be wounded. That is a given. All suffering is potentially redemptive, all wounds are potentially sacred wounds. It depends on what you do with them. Can you find God in them or not?
— Richard Rohr (adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality)
- Life Is Larger Than Pain
- Pain: The Breaking Of The Shell That Encloses Your Understanding
- That Even In Darkness It Is Possible To Create Light
- I Will Not Let You Go Until You Bless Me
- When People Grieve: The Power of Love in the Midst of Pain
- On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss
- Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief