2017: Return to Self

I am a relentless optimist. Perhaps this is one reason I am comfortable with bereavement. After devastating circumstances and change I believe and know life can be full of love, hope and peace. My reality is that I am emotionally stronger and healthier and more confident than when those I have loved greatly were alive. I appreciate this may be impossible to comprehend and may reverberates as “I can never” in your own mind and body. It’s unimaginable in early, raw grief. It seems like betrayal. This is why I stand in hope and offer a future vision of life after deaths! Grief and loss have taught me. Healing is about rectifying the lessons underneath the pain. My summary concludes that the message is always love and your healing heals me.

During the last ten years professionally I’ve come into my own evolution and thoughts on how to move forward with loss and which tools can help through grieving. I recognize the important whole journey through body, mind and beliefs for adjusting to the transition after loss – Navigating Grief and the longer, deeper transformation into Who am I now? I call Circling Life

As is my inclination in December, I find myself in review. I now tend to take a longer scope than a single year as I find that “since Dave died” or “since mom died” are often the change date I pinpoint, six years and three years respectively next February. “Last year” is very often the unfolding of events seeded the year before. I could easily transgress into an extra long narrative because this particular year yielded a great harvest of unexpected opportunities and synthesis. I emerge from my transformation growth.

Ironically, I chose Intention last January as a word to bring conscious structure to my life in 2017. Although Intention can be will and setting an expectation, I actually sought its guidance as consciousness of my activities and relationships. As a goal, my Intention was to seek out opportunities at the source of ritual. I sought out experiences related to an image of the heart inside a circle, a symbol of relationship to center of self,  between and with others and in expansion like a drop that causes a wave ripple. I definitely received some amazing experiences!

The Two Highlights

Long story shortened, I share two moments of note from 2017 which may only be one: my heart and soul are broken open to love again and I am complete. Last one first…

“I am complete” was a reference to preparations and conversations at The Circle Way Practicum I attended. In this methodology for leadership, the host and guardian are co-creative partners for inviting and developing an appropriate container for groups to listen and strengthen their work together. As I interpreted, preparations are a microcosm in a circle relationship as the two walk through logistics and any stuck points. “I am complete” is like the moment of satisfaction of a great meal, when you push away the plate, in appreciation for the nourishment, shared bread and fullness. It feels just right.

A couple of months prior to The Circle Way Practicum, I spent a most incredible week living and learning in the source of indigenous healing ritual and ceremony at the Cree First Nations Sun Dance in Alberta, Canada. Open to non-native in a generous desire for broader teaching and healing of all peoples, I could not have anticipated the powerful and ongoing lessons I still unfold. When I wrote out Intention specifically to go to source, I got what I asked for!

“I am complete” means I have found my own inner self and I love her. I have never been one to declare my husband or child or another person to complete me, I am way too “independent” for that, but I don’t think I truly felt myself as complete and whole at any time in life until now.

Transition to Transformation

Transformation has meant in all these years “since Dave died” that I examine my life history of story in context of my historic pain of all losses.  One recent journal entry said “I wonder who is this woman I wake up with some mornings, but I find her interesting.” It’s true. That’s so funny to me I laugh when I read it! I am free to love and accept myself these days, own up to past and present imperfections, stand in my own formulated opinions, and remain open to more discovery and growth. It occurs to me now that perfection or worry about judgments is no longer in daily operation. I give myself what I have always generously offered others. I am satisfied as who I am today, in this moment.

Heart and soul open… widows and life partners in particular face the Am I lovable / Can I love another again questions in one of the most intimate adult relationships of our lives. Of course, deep love wounds occur in all losses – parent, child, friends – by nature of a broken heart and make us question whether love is worth vulnerability. Hiding from love is a self-protective response. I can tell you the answer is yes, receiving and giving love is worth exposure because life is about connection. The feeling of love is our heart in the circle of self. How transparent or opaque do you make the circle? For me, this means “clearing the fields” past and present.

Aside from professional knowledge, in the first year after Dave died I recognized viscerally that in grief the message is always love. Again, for me, that meant to figure out how to love myself as well as he had loved me. (You may have a different message about love.) I discovered it was easiest to make that his job in our life. Fortunately, he was good at it, but it didn’t take me long after he died to realize I missed his love and acceptance of me greatly. Who would step in after he had this position for 30 + years? I wasn’t about to give this job out again. And really, who would want it? Thus began my inquiry to self. See above, I am complete.

For the last couple of years I’ve known I am willing to be vulnerable again to mutual intimacy with my desire for a very conscious relationship. Yet I haven’t been ready to seek out “this person” with shopping list in hand. No online profiles for me! In some quiet wishful moments I’d simply say, you, Divine helper, will just have to drop the person in front of me! So, of course, during this past year of Intention, an encounter led to the beautiful pitter-pat of my heart. The energy between us was literal magic. Mysterious. Unlikely. There will be no dating nor promises of a love connection nor even a romantic tryst. I believe that the Universe revealed to me possibility and mutuality to connect and be loved just as I am. I do not hurt nor feel disappointed. Conversely, I know expansion and outpouring of the heart’s energy and capacity for love once again. I am extremely grateful for this gentle and warming experience. I am ready for much more in 2018.

Return to Self

Return to love and self and wholeness is waiting on the other side of significant loss, in a new deeper understanding. The type of loss doesn’t matter since grief is the pain of separation. First is to acknowledge the possibility that the unknown may be more than you can imagine, not less. The work through grief and loss requires Intention, with a focus that shifts from your loved one of “us” to the love to be complete as you. If you want, start by making an appreciation list for specific reasons you think you were loved by the one you miss. The road is rough, lonely, challenging and empty. Feelings and thoughts will push and pull. Loss can be a wake up call to self. A guide can help you. Probably several as you grow and tend to new needs of your body, mind and beliefs. Time is one of the measures for noting progress. When you go inside, you will find love, life, breath and peace in the heart, both pulse and symbol.

This optimist is excited for 2018. I am finalizing my word for the new year. I suspect it too will yield unforeseeable results. I know in certainty my work continues in bereavement. Volumes of writing and theorizing and callings and dreams are circling around and around. I open and close doors and windows at homes and offices. My sense of purpose “to be or not to be” is finally gaining clarity, way beyond the terms of survival or existence. I am ready to expose this unconventional guidance I am called to share. My desire is to articulate the value and meaning of grief and loss not just for me, my healing, but with you, your healing, and carry an expansion of love into our world facing social and environmental deep grief as well.

In this way, the message is always love and your healing heals me.

As we close the year on 2017 and move from fall harvest into the quiet and rejuvenating fallow of winter, may you find the energy of true love and acceptance in your heart for yourself, others and the planet in the coming seasons of a new year.

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