Today I am writing from a quiet space—a sacred space I choose every year on the anniversary of my son’s death. As Victor Frankl advises, I am exercising my free right to choose my attitude, even in the face of grief. I no longer allow my loss to impose its dark side over me, though the darkness abroad in the world tempts me there. I choose, instead, to offer myself and others the gifts available in grief: the opportunities to deepen, ripen and make way for new ways of being.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.
Victor Frankl, holocaust survivor, author
My book, “The Gifts of Grief: Finding Light in the Darkness of Loss” (Hierophant Publishing, 2013) had its critics. Those who clung to the feelings—authentic emotions—of sadness, loss, anger and resentment were too early in their grieving to see a gift there. Rather, some resented what they saw as an attempt to lessen the importance of their loss. It’s only when the grief is no longer new and raw that we can approach it with a new attitude of healing and transformation. Only the griever knows their time table. It took me awhile before I began my search for a new way to see my loss. I found guides hard to find.
For me, the memory of my son’s loving energy began to assert itself through the darkness of my grief. I began to ask myself how my agony was affecting him in spirit and my beloved family on Earth, also grieving. From the fertile darkness, a seed of belief took hold, nurtured by his energetic presence and the question of how I would now honor and know him in my life. In the beginning, I honored him with my grieving. He was gone. He was no longer a joyful living presence in my life. I could not try to go around those facts.
As the great poet, philosopher and spiritual teacher John O’Donohue wrote in his beautiful poem “On the Death of the Beloved:”
Though we need to weep your loss,
you dwell in that safe place in our hearts
where no storm or night or pain can reach you.
He is acknowledging the mystical knowing that our beloved is not “gone” but relocated. The energy we feel is them beyond the body. Our tears and pain are for our own loss. Our choice to move out of the vale of tears and see with our hearts gives us a great gift. That gift is rediscovery of our beloved in our energy field, in our prayer and meditation, and deep in our hearts.
In my articles on Sacred Energy I have invited you to appreciate your heart and heal its wounds. This time we will go there to transform our grief. This exercise is “Releasing Sorrow, Accepting Compassion” from my book the Gifts of Grief.
This is Sacred Energy work on a very high level. It teaches compassion for self and others. As I say in the book: “The journey through life, like the journey through grief, becomes a totally different trip when taken in love and compassion instead of fear, anger, and judgment. Eventually, the rest of our life will be created from the emotional intentions, choices, and compassionate heart we have learned to heed through this long journey.”
Releasing Sorrow and Accepting Compassion
- Close your eyes and begin breathing deeply.
- See your heart and fill it with feelings of love and peace by breathing deeply and finding a place and time where you once felt love and/or appreciation. See this memory, breathe it in.
- Now picture your sorrow as a living thing, crying for attention in your body. What does it look like? What color is it?
- Visualize putting your hands on this living vision of sorrow. Send words and feelings of love and forgiveness to the overwhelming sadness you’ve been feeling. Take your time, breathing deeply. You are honoring your sorrow.
- Now ask your sorrow to collect in your heart. See it go there—see it lighten in color if it is dark. Feel it embraced in the heart’s love, peace and acceptance. What color is it now? Breathe deeply into the sorrow, into the heart.
- Imagine your sorrow being absorbed into the love in your heart. Feel your heart expand with love and compassion for you personally, and the sorrow you’ve endured. Watch as the sorrow becomes part of the light of your heart’s love.
- Now feel that love and compassion spreading out into your whole body with each beat of your heart. Visualize the color as it vibrates into every cell. Take your time. This is very sacred work.
- When you’re ready—take all the time you need—open your eyes. If you can, write about this experience and repeat it when you feel the need.
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
For Further Insight:
The writings of Therese Tappouni… “One Woman’s Window” Series
(This, and many other exercises and meditations, can be found in the store as the Gifts of Grief MP3 at www.theresetappouni.com.) If you don’t have it, put on some quiet music, or just stay in silence.