I was just about to leave home for a highly anticipated backpacking trip when my mom called with the news that my cousin died unexpectedly a few days earlier. There was no time for more phone calls or processing of what this meant to me. I left home with a heavy heart. I sighed a lot. I cried a little. I thought about him and talked about him. I had been on several backpacking trips with my cousin in our younger days. It was comforting to know that I was doing something he really enjoyed that I had shared with him.
I held space in my body for that tired and heavy feeling which accompanies sadness and grief. I knew that most of my grief was on hold until I returned home. I was patient with this process. I already knew that joy can be present along with grief but these six days in the mountain wilderness with family I love dearly proved to me that I have the ability to be in mourning and at the same time feel joy. These emotions can exist side by side once the resistance to reality is released.
This time around I practiced feeling grief and joy together using all my mind-body skills, in full observation of myself, open to what I needed, when, and to whatever emotions came up. I often felt a sigh, a pulling down of tiredness, that I recognized as sadness and I let it be there. I gave up trying to make my experience any different then it really was in each moment. These skills allowed my emotions to flow, instead of resisting them. I let go of trying to control them, gave up the fight with reality and let the emotions come and go naturally. This also allowed me to be fully engaged in the enjoyment of my vacation.
Once I got back home I knew I needed to take the time to honor my memory of my cousin. My tendency is to get really focused on the to-do list and not give myself the time and space I need to feel emotions. When I ignore my emotions and make the to-do list more important it takes a toll on me by making me sick or flaring up myofascial pain, pelvic pain, bladder irritation or some other body ache. I could have forged ahead and ignored the heaviness of my grief. This time I didn’t.
I prioritized the to-do list by doing just the most important things and postponing the others. This took the pressure off me resulting in a more relaxed body. I’m letting myself have the time I need to do what feels right to remember my cousin. I took the time to get coached by another mind-body coach who held the space beautifully for me to feel my grief. I’m leaving my grieving process open-ended by not expecting it to be over in a specific amount of time. My house is still messier than I like. I’m challenged to keep up with the garden and the to-do list for my business. But I know I will get caught up at some point. Right now my well-being is more important than all of that.
Finding the Richness
It’s not always convenient to fully recognize and feel emotions when first they come up. You can’t always get over it and move on in the timing your mind wants you to. Emotions have their own time-table with unique ways of coming up. Knowing that you can’t always control them and making room for all the emotions to be present and to flow with each other opens you up to a richer life experience as well as a more comfortable body.