[Written in late 2009.]
Grief is painful, but opens the door to healing and growth. If there were no grieving, we would stay stagnant—the numb, seemingly comfortable stagnancy that is the goal of the norm. When we are in the midst of grieving we might wish to have it all go away, because in a sense the pain of grief is terrifying, but this is only the terror of facing ourselves—a deeper, more vulnerable, more hidden side of ourselves that we are usually able to plug up in our daily lives.
We grieve because we have lost, and because the loss is poignant. The loss we experience, the loss of today, the loss of having something we value ripped out of our guts, taps into all the losses we have experienced from our entire lives, going right back to the loss on the day we were created by our imperfect parents—parents who could not love us in the way we so desperately needed. The losses of our earliest years form the basis of the tragedy of our childhood—and the template for the shadow side of our adulthood.
As children we were forced to be resilient and bury the pain of these losses, because we had no choice. Our parents, who let us down in similar ways to how their parents let them down, could not bear to see our expressions of the damages they had inflicted upon us. They forced us to be good little boys and girls and bury our torment, and parrot the lines that “life is inevitably hard” and “you are good enough, Mommy and Daddy.”
But they weren’t good enough, and deep down we always knew it, even if we couldn’t face it consciously. And whether we can face it now or not, the losses we suffer today tap into that truth of yesterday. We may not know that this is what is happening, but if we study our histories it becomes clear all too quickly. This just causes more pain—a true, clear pain so necessary for self-actualization. For that reason so many people live lives with the primary goal being the maintenance of safety—safety from feeling pain. They choose safe relationships where they risk little of depth, little of passion, little of hope or realness, and instead just live a charade, a game of pretend that they hope will last for decades—until death do they part.
But are they lucky if they avoid their pain? Are they lucky if they never grow? Are their children lucky to inherit their shallowness and lies and repressed misery? Are their grandchildren lucky to inherit a world that is build upon layers and generations of avoided grief? And will their grandchildren’s grandchildren be lucky when the world is so clogged with unfelt grief and its consequences that the whole planet is no longer livable?