by Josephine Laing
Coming up out of grief is a little bit like coming up out of a long sleep. It can take some time or it can be as quick and tentative as a rabbit bounding up from a dark little hole. It all depends on how deeply connected the relationship was.
From January of 2003 through December of 2005, Frank and I experienced eighteen deaths in twenty four months. It was horrible. They just kept coming, one after another. We would have barely moped up the mess of our emotions from one when another would hit. We thought it would never end and we cried buckets full of tears. We lost family members, beloved four leggeds, cousins and close friends. It took us a while to recover, but eventually we did.
With every loss our lives change. They are never the same again. It’s not necessarily better or worse, just different. In the aftermath of our experience, Frank came up with a theory about what happens when we loose someone. It goes like this. We all have invisible fields around us, like our auras, or like Rupert Sheldrake’s “morphogenetic fields” that inform us on a sub-conscious level. Our energy fields reach out and bump off of those that we love or are near to. The fields bounce back to us and let us know, at a very subtle level of being, how things are. When a death occurs, that physical body is no longer there to bounce off of and our energy fields just keep on reaching. Almost like reaching out a hand to steady ourselves against a door frame that is suddenly no longer there, we can loose our footing, or even fall. And it takes us a while to regain the balance of our lives with that support suddenly missing. Even in the case of lingering deaths, the other is still there physically and then all of a sudden they are gone and only the shell of their bodies remains.
During that period of time where we have lost our balance, knowing how everything has changed, we can feel like we will never be the same again. And it’s true, we won’t. But we will heal, and we will find our equilibrium again, or some sense of it over time. And time is the key. How ever long it takes is how ever long it takes. It can be days or weeks or years, even life times if you believe like me.
During the eighteen deaths in twenty four months, Frank and I received a crash course in grieving 101. For some of the deaths, I would be devastated, while he would be not so much. For others, his world would be rocked upside down and I would be sad but not too upset. With still others, we’d both be on our knees. We never knew how devastated we would be until we experienced it. And some were just lessons in death with barely any emotion attached, like the possum that climbed under the shed and died leaving it’s body to rot and fill the air of our backyard for days with a thick and greasy sent that permeated everything. We were redoing our floors at the time, because the house had flooded. (When it rains, it pours.) So, we were camping out in the backyard, and thus, the possum’s death was a particularly offensive and disturbing event. I felt like Inana as I donned my respirator and rake and crawled down to the underworld of our shed to probe and pull fruitlessly at all of the debris I could reach in an attempt to relieve us of the stench and reclaim the fresh air of our lives.
But that is just exactly what happens when we come up out of grief. We reclaim the fresh air of our lives. Though we will never entirely forget and always will miss them, after time, we can regain the ability to smell the flowers again. We can throw open the curtains and kick off the covers of our sadness and breathe once more. Just like spring, life returns. So, after death and grief have had their way with you, rise up again and take heart. Be with those who are still here. Let yourself resonate with them and trust that with time you will be able to bounce off of and steady yourself against your existing loved ones, and laugh once more and love.
For more details about Josephine’s love and work on the planet (and beyond):