The Valley of Grief
I am grieving the loss of my mother who died suddenly and unexpectantly on May 26th. This is my truth when it comes to allowing myself to grieve while drawing inspiration from the mountains, and from the book Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.
What do we know about the mountains? There are peaks and there are valleys. High highs and low lows. Just like life. I absolutely love the mountains. I also love to hike in the mountains. I love the climb, the exhilaration and the success of reaching the top of the trail I’m on.
But right now, I am lying on my back visiting the cold dark ground of the valley. And it’s time to stay here.
In her book, Glennon describes a time when her husband of something like 12 years told her he had cheated on her their whole marriage. She was devastated. Looking for ways to cope, she saw a therapist and turned to yoga. On a particularly bad day, she went to yoga and her regular teacher’s class was full so she had to go to Hot Yoga. She set the intention to stay on her mat in a hot room for 90 minutes no matter what, and she did, crying for every pain and loss she had ever felt. This is what a valley looks like. This is what it looks like to be brave enough to live with pain and to live with grief and to see the good here in the valley. Glennon calls it the way of the warrior–the Love Warrior.
You see the problem for me and for so many of us women is that today’s lifestyle offers us a thousand ways to numb out the valley, and to avoid the pain. Glennon calls it our Easy Buttons that take us away from dealing with life. I can pretend that everything is okay by staying busy with work, or by scrolling through Facebook, or by shopping for new clothes, or by having that second or third glass of wine, or by getting a prescription to dull the pain, or by gossiping with a bunch of friends, or by binge watching Netflix, or by, and my personal favorite, intellectualizing. But none of that works for very long, and at some point, when I least expect it the pain of the valley comes to sit next to me and holds my hand and looks into my eyes and whispers, “Remember how much your mom truly loved you.”
Grief is the receipt to prove we paid the price for love.
I am an artist. My art is the written word. The first purpose of art is to make us feel. We watch scary movies to feel fear, we listen to sad songs to make us cry, we read romance novels to feel love. It is imperative as an artist and a creative to feel so that we can translate those feelings to others. I am also a healer, and I heal with coaching. Feelings are what makes us human, and a good coach crouches to meet our client where they are at, often in fear of change and paralyzed with doubt and stays there with them while holding the vision of what’s possible pointing towards the path out when they are ready to resume the climb.
What a gift it is for me to be in this pain. What spectacular writing and coaching will come from this rawness. In my chapter in When Women Talk, Stories than stain and stories that serve, I wrote about my lesson from my own life story and the hundreds I have witnessed. What I have learned is that you have to stand in your story and be with the emotions of it, then stand beside it, and eventually stand on your story and use it to move on and serve your life.
Right now, I am at the Stand In your story stage.
The good in the valley is that fertile ground surrounds me. Wildflowers and deep green moss surround me. By sitting with my pain, I find the lessons that I can pass on to my children, I can be reminded of the emotions that I write about when I write, I can be a mirror for my clients when they face this level of pain. I am a full human being with a full whole range of life by sitting down on the ground of this valley.
And now I ask you. Where is there pain in your life? Stop running away from it! Stay on your yoga mat! Sit with it, hold it, and ask it how it will be of service to you when you are ready to stand up and walk away and start climbing the mountain again?