Good morning, Journeyer!
This morning I am coming to you from the first National Hope and Grief Convention being held at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis!
Warren and I set out in our trusty, rusty old van when I finished work on Wednesday, spent the night in a Super 8 in Ohio, and finished the few hours under bright sunshine yesterday morning.
It was a long day for the many exhibitors who came from as far away as Alberta, Canada, but…wow…the love and compassion and healing energy that has collected in this hotel ballroom…
I’ll attach the links to some of the people I met who know how to help you nurture your grief and to help you walk through those dark, sometimes unkind and unflinching days, journeyers who are some of our grief neighbors.
Some of the pervasive messages that we all share are the truths that we are not alone in this world, no matter our emotional state, be it happy, sad, glad, mad, jealous or any other label you can attach to your feeling.
And though we all share similar emotions and experiences, there is also the clear distinction that we are connected through our individual experiences, yet the journey is uniquely our own.
I’ll always remember the first time I realized the disparity in that quote we’ve all heard: “I know how you feel; I’ve been there before.”
You know the saying, right?
My sister was sharing with me pain and conflict she was experiencing during a difficult time in her life.
“I know how you feel. I’ve been there before.” Yep, most (if not all of us have done it.)
“You’ve never been where I am,” she wailed at me, “my life’s a living hell!”
In that moment I realized that I had not been where she was, we can never truly walk in another’s shoes. What we have is an emotional empathy, a connection to inner conflict and some semblance of universal suffering.
“You’re right, sis,” I managed to say, “I’ve never been in the exact same place you are, but I’ve been right next door. Everyone’s hell is different, but everyone has their own living hell.”
That image has stayed with me ever since, and I didn’t realize it until right this second: This event became the catalyst for a new way of thinking that ultimately became one of The Five Facets mantras and one of our slogans…
“We are neighbors in grief and allies in healing.™”
Which brings me back to my grief neighbors here at the convention.
Among the grief coaches, authors, artists, and event organizers are two vendors who have created product lines to help identify a person who is grieving.
In decades past, calling hours were not four or five disjointed hours during the day but a week-long event where callers came to the bereaved, who would often wear black for a year, a symbol to the outside world that she was in a mourning phase of her life.
One of the exhibitor stories that touched me most is a young widow, a mother of three young children who created a clothing line with her daughters, a twenty-first century version of yesterday’s black. Come back Sunday for more on her, but for now, I want to talk about one of her offerings.
It reads, “There is no such thing as ‘good grief.’ ”
That journeyer, is where the two sides of grief comes in.
“Good grief” is an euphemism for “REALLY?!”
Two words to capture an event that is shocking, unfathomable, and yet somehow seems to happen with a regularity that is incomprehensible.
I asked Becky, Grief Wear‘s founder, what that quote meant to her.
She shared with me that the phrase was actually something her father-in-law said in passing to her in the aftermath of losing a second son, her husband.
What it means to her is that while we’re in the midst of agony, “grief sucks. It’s not good when we’re going through it.”
So, so true, Journeyer.
While we’re in the middle of grief it can be agonizing, arduous, and downright atrocious.
And yet, even while we are living those adjectives so, too, are we living moments of clarity, compassion, and comfort.
The event may be so fleeting that we don’t pay attention to it, we choose not to recognize it as significant.
But they are there, Journeyer, small yet significant happy moments.
Which brings me to the other side of that grief…
I had the good fortune to be a guest on the Good Grief radio show with host Cheryl Jones.
This program is “inspired by people who have made something miraculous out of their deepest heartaches,” and they work to highlight the good growth that can came from our deepest sorrows.
We have many expressions to describe the good that can be associated with grief. An exhibitor next to me is giving away fortune cookies with a message in the middle that says, “You can become broken…or broken open.”
We talk about how much growth we gain after our grief puzzle has been assembled, when we finally reach the other side of reconciliation…healing…
One of the grief coaches exhibiting at this Grief and Hope convention has this on her card: “Where there is deep grief, there was great love.”
I love that phrase for as The Five Facets of Healing tells us, our grief isn’t about what we lost but rather out attachment to what has gone missing from our lives.
I might however, change that quote just a tad; I much prefer “Where there is deep grief, there is great love.”
Our love for what we’ve lost, be it a child, parent, spouse, pet, home, financial or physical security, does not die or go away in grief…
The entity merely takes on a different form from that we’ve come to expect…
What about you, Journeyer, can you identify with two sides of grief in one of your experiences? We’d be honored to have you share your story in the comments below!