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Hello People!

Let’s begin at the end and see how looking back actually offers a road forward! It’s Memorial Day, a bookmark for remembrance in the stories of our lives. I think of it as an opportunity to challenge old notions of memory in ways that enliven us.  There are as many ways to  experience loss as there are people struggling to do just that.  I hope you’ll join our conversation, in fact, I hope you’ll break it wide open. What have you lost? What do you grieve? Where are you stuck? What have you done that moved you forward? What have you not yet allowed yourself to say? Let’s wrestle with suffering in ways that make it work for us!

Longfellow asserted that “There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.” Speaking from your heart can be a radical act…put down the burden of your silence…join the conversation.


 10 Responses 

  1. “It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live. There is but one reasonable explanation of it. The intellect is stunned by the shock and but gropingly gathers the meaning of the words. The power to realize their full import is mercifully lacking.” — Mark Twain in his autobiography speaking about the death of his wife.

  2. Eileen Vandergrift

    Twain strikes so close to the bone!
    Maybe it’s what he refers to as the effort to “gropingly gather” the meaning of our losses that finally moves us from feelings of grief to the process of mourning?
    Do you think that feeling “stuck” in grief could be about not having found ‘good enough’ ways to muddle through shock on the way to making meaning?

  3. I notice we often think the suffering during grieving will never end when we’re in the middle of it. We may have gone through it several times, but through the soul-crushing bouts of grief, we think we’ll feel this pain forever. Having reminders that those beliefs are normal but skewed gives me hope.

    • Eileen Vandergrift

      It’s been said that,’Normal’ is just a cycle on the washing machine.” Your grief experience is as individual as your fingerprint and
      I hope that we can remind each other that grief moves through us in ways that are really specific to our own losses. What I think of as eternalizing the moment (feeling that the worst pain of our grief will go on forever), happens when our minds are being washed over by our feelings…it’s a good time to stop, breathe and look for something ashore that offers us a reminder of solid ground.
      Our losses are often ‘forever’ in that we can’t recreate what was lost BUT what we can make of those losses might allow the cycle of returning feelings to become an upward spiral rather than a repetitive circle. Hope is a precious thing, it is a gift that each of us can offer, and receive, as we need it. Let people know what you need and keep an eye out for those who can be both generous and gentle with you.

  4. As I’ve moved and grown in the world through healthier places/relationships/attitudes I’ve grappled with how to reconcile the stories I used to tell myself with the new narratives of my life. Some of my old stories were toxic, created defenses in me, limited my potential. In the losses I have experienced since then and the branching off in new directions that I have undertaken (both deliberate and instinctive) I’ve had to straddle the parts of those stories that make me who I am, while embracing the new. At times it’s hard not to feel like you’re betraying one story or the other. It feels like the old story scolds you for abandoning where you came from, or the new story rolls its eyes when you revert back to the old. But to know what was without hindering what can still be is essential to me in my personal engagement with loss.

    • Eileen Vandergrift

      Well, obviously you have thought deeply about the importance of your ‘story”, which is, of course, a way of formulating your self understanding that attempts to be inclusive of all of the experiences which move you forward.
      This way of thinking about yourself, and what your shifting experiences of yourself mean over time, is at the heart of the project I’m involved in with Memories In Motion. We all have old ideas about who we are or think we need to be. Most of us carry “toxic” memories or ideas of ourselves that rear up, from time to time, and challenge our efforts to be who we aim to be. Losses are inevitable, painful, disturbing and usually require both our “deliberate” and “instinctive’ attention to bring us to fuller versions of who we have come to be. I’m very focused on your conflicted experience of feeling that growing forward requires you to manage uncomfortable feelings. Whether you’re concerned about “betraying” or “abandoning” your old story or suspicious of your new story, you are describing a transitional sense that most of us can relate to. It’s a bit of a “push me-pull you” Dr Dolittle phenomenon and it is essential to respecting our forward moving efforts. Our thoughts and feelings adapt to our losses, and our gains. Incrementally, this adaptation allows us to come to know who we are and certainly facilitates becoming who we want to be. Making loss our own, a part of us, a part of our story, gives us an opportunity to develop a relationship to it that otherwise can’t usually happen. I think you’re onto a very subtle, and important path here and that is that, all growing forward involves a kind of leaving behind. If the leaving behind is absorbed into the forward movement, we can maintain a vital relationship to the past into the future. In this way, we lose as little as possible of what formed us and we might stay open to the past continuing to offer us new perspectives on who we are and why.

  5. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. ~ Seneca and SuperSonic

  6. Eileen Vandergrift

    …so the drum beats on and the story grows…Beautiful!

  7. WOW
    Mostly, I keep my thoughts to myself but I do like reading and hearing others. I hope that is ok? I feel it is hard to comment cause perhaps,
    those of us that have lost a child or spouse wanna stay hidden. If I hear you correctly, there is a whole bunch of us out here that find it hard to share.
    Of all the places I’ve been to———-
    Keep helping us that feel abandoned.

  8. Eileen Vandergrift

    It’s perfectly fine to keep your thoughts to yourself OR to share. You are welcome here in whatever way you feel comfortable
    ( which may or may not change),
    As you follow the conversation try to remember that speaking can sometimes open you up to new perspectives. Feeling abandoned by others is very painful…I hope that abandoning the conversation, at the heart of your own life, is never necessary.

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