Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Leaning into the pain

I read a website yesterday that suggested you should "lean into the pain" while grieving. I found it an interesting directive. But I think I like it.

I've had contacts from others, locally and nationally -- mostly other mothers -- who have lost their children. They have given me dates like 1996 and 2000 when their precious little ones left them. Their grief still seems fresh in their writing. I am devastated for them -- as my husband said the other day, "This is NOT a club anyone wants to belong to", and frankly I'm frightened for myself. As much as I will miss Kiersten with a big part of my heart forever, and as much as I am profoundly sad that I will not have her in my life anymore, the prospect of continuing to grieve in this paralyzing way for another 13 years is scaring the crap out of me.

It's easy to find escapes from pain; drugs, risk-taking behavior, games, even work -- but I think that failing to "lean into the pain", might keep us from conquering it, or at least co-existing with it. I think "leaning into it" means to feel it, not just on the surface, but to meld with it, make it part of us, and to find it a home where it can exist and not cause us ongoing damage. I think I mentioned in an earlier post once that stress, pain, exhaustion can soften us at times; make us more open to change, allow us to accept that things are not what they once were.

It hurts to lean into the pain. It makes me cry and rage and at times to struggle to stand perfectly still, like a captain trying to steer a ship through a buffeting hurricane. But each time I do it, each time I let the pain pass through me, it seems to change in a subtle way. Maybe in time, it will not hurt as much.

BHD said the other day, "This is not your story." The parents who stop living and continue to grieve for years stretching into decades are not my story. But I think it will take a continual "leaning into the pain" for awhile to make sure of it. I'm not looking forward to it. But I think this is what I will have to do.


bhd said...

I think you're on the right track, Bean. Own it now, so it won't own you later.

Lisse said...

"and to find it a home where it can exist and not cause us ongoing damage."

As in - not letting loss define you or define your relationships.

It's an incredibly clear-eyed view.

I'm in awe.

Misty said...

It's Misty...just letting you know I have not forgotten about you or your family and think about all of you guys everyday still....medical school is going wonderfully i will be finished with another quarter this thursday...Kiersten's memory really keeps me focused and on track....keep your head up.

Unknown said...

The real miracle is that there IS something on the other side of that pain (a way to move on, I suspect), and it will be worth achieving when it happens.


- MsJudi @ RP

Alison said...

Exactly. My sister-in-law likes to say "Name it and claim it," and leaning into the pain will help you do just that. It hurts to lean into it, but as BHD said above, own it now so it won't own you.

Yes, I've learned this lesson the hard way, for other circumstances. I wish I'd had the clarity you seem to have. You are so strong, but not too strong, if that makes any sense.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the pain never goes away,but there probably is a peaceful way to co-exist with it & have it be ok.Like it's part of the tapestry of who we are... it's just a new thread.....

PEACE I think, is what you're after....when it comes, I don't know.

Thinking about you....