In times of pain, reaching out can be a daunting task, especially when we believe that no one can truly grasp the magnitude of our loss. This was certainly true for me. I wanted so badly to feel understood, but I didn’t want to be pitied or told how to feel. I just wanted to be validated in my experience and know that whatever I was feeling was acceptable and ok. I learned that there is no road map for how to grieve. There is no right or wrong way to be or to feel after a loss. Grief is the normal and appropriate response to losing someone or something you love, which looks different for each of us. The journey of grief is a personal path to follow, which can also be lonely and cause you to feel isolated, disconnected, and displaced along the way. This is why the antidote to grieving is Community and Connection.
It is so hard to reach out when you are in pain. It is even harder to ask for help when you already feel isolated and alone in your grief like no one on earth can possibly understand what you are going through. The feeling of being misunderstood or unseen in your pain can then cause you to further isolate yourself because it is easier to deal with your pain alone than to take on other people’s projections, assumptions, and discomfort with your grief.
If any of this sounds familiar, please know you are not alone. Loneliness and the feeling of being disconnected from yourself and others is the unspoken, secondary loss that comes with grief. This is something that nobody talks about that can take you down if you don’t have a life raft to hold onto. When you are in the throes of grief, and oftentimes the trauma that is associated with your loss, it can be disorienting and you may not even recognize yourself. All of a sudden life is upside down, and it can be so overwhelming and terrifying that it feels easier to shut down, disappear or disengage from your life. Now put on top of that the expectation from well-meaning friends and family to be ok. To ‘get over’ your loss. To move on with your life. To be happy when you are not. To keep it together when all you really need to do is fall apart. All of this adds to feeling more disconnected and alone at a time when what you need most is to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance of whatever you are feeling. This is where community comes in.
However, community will only be the balm for your heart if you feel safe in the space you are in. Creating a safe container for people to grieve in is the core value of the Mindful Grieving approach. When there is safety, then vulnerability and authentic sharing can take place, which deepens connection. When you see a part of yourself in another person and get to know each other on the inside rather than through your social personas, it creates a bond that is so strong that it supports you to feel understood, accepted, and have permission to feel your feelings. This is the value of being in connection with others who are also going through a loss. Sometimes, you just need someone else to ‘get it.’ This has been the secret to the magic of the Awakening Through Wellness Grief Retreats on Maui. When people feel connected in community and accepted for who they are, they transform and create bonds that last a lifetime.
When you feel like you are drowning, connection in community is your life raft. Being witnessed in your true experience - no matter how messy, ugly, confusing, or sometimes beautiful and joyful it may be - will give you something that you cannot receive on your own. A reflection of yourself. A mirror to hear, feel and know yourself better. A container to hold you in your exploration, curiosity, self-awareness, and the confusion, despair, heartache, fear, and deep sadness that is inherent in loss. When you have a safe place to let all of the feelings come out, then you don’t have to carry them on your shoulders like a backpack full of rocks. In community, you get to put your burden down, empty your backpack and have a support system to share the load.
In my own healing journey, my grief opened me to greater depth and meaningful connections in my personal and professional life. I found my current community of like-minded, creative, compassionate, and amazing souls who meet me in my depth and intensity after losing Noah because my grief broke me open in a way that expanded my heart and mind and gave me access to the deeper parts of myself. My marriage deepened. My relationship with my daughters evolved. My ability to hold space for others grew. This is one of the quiet gems of loss.
Our hearts break and grow bigger in grief so we feel more, love more, and can therefore cultivate deep and meaningful connections, which we can find in many different places. You can find it in a circle with old and new friends. You can find it hiking on a trail or sitting by a stream. You can find it on your yoga mat or meditation cushion. You can find it by sharing a cup of tea with a friend or simply making eye contact or sharing a smile with a stranger on the street. All of these forms of connection can support you to remember yourself when you have lost your way. To feel connected to life when you feel alone. To feel awake when you feel like you are just going through the motions. Connection will help you to remember why you are alive and here on this earth. It gives purpose and meaning to life.
The CSG community is here for you and for anyone in need of connection and support. This is how I got through my own loss, and I am here to support you too. You don’t have to do it alone.
From my heart to yours,