When I finish grieving
When I finish grieving I will… get back to work.
clean my house.
attend to those I love.
care for myself.
make a change I know I need to make.
When I finish grieving I will…
have a better life.
be happy again.
work to make the world a better place.
follow my calling.
Freud wrote a stunning essay called Mourning and Melancholia. His words are as alive today as ever in our culture that does not understand how to grieve. This post is built upon Freud's essay.
For a time, after a loss, we are in shock. We may not be our most effective selves. We swing wildly from emotion to emotion. Energy raging. Energy stopped.
And sometimes in our grief, as the days pass, we get stuck. We over-identify with our loss and we go underground. Or I should say a big part of ourself goes underground.
A big part of ourself is also dead and gone. Accompanying whatever we lost to the underworld.
This is depression of a sort. Readers of this blog know that I hold that term lightly.
It can take some time to re-find life.
But. And this is the key thought I want to convey. But. The opposite of depression is not moving on. The opposite is not being happy.
What we have lost will never be restored.
What has happened can never be undone.
I’m talking about death but I’m also talking about failure, violence, relationship breakdown, and many types of shock and trauma.
There’s no “getting over it.” There’s only change - the constant that accompanies us all.
Mourning is lifelong.
Mourning is not the same as sadness or depression.
While no longer melancholy I grieve every day.
My loss is the energy that propels me forward.
My daily life is the working through of my losses.
My daily life happens on account of what has been taken away.
Everything I have and everything that I have lost is present. And if I can allow myself - that is my heart, body, soul, and mind - to traverse the terrain of myself. Then I am living.
There is no living apart from our losses.
So the idea that we should not mourn too long is violent. It says - push that loss part away - it has no place. Get up out of bed and act.
You’ll act. I’ll act. We’ll help each other through our depressions - our melancholy.
And then we’ll mourn. Directly and fruitfully and excruciatingly. We’ll mourn.
Facing forward - stronger because of who we have become in losing as well as having.