hmmm, perhaps this is a complement for him, perhaps not so much. but in my short time in his book Awakening From Grief, i've found enough conversation starters to last us the rest of the week. (not to mention that crazy book about dragons and princesses and holy grails -- oh and many thanks to mom rice, susan, karli, jb, and jen for meeting me in the castle, or was it the dungeon? it was so nice to have your thoughts appear throughout the day!)
Since we went long last night, let's get right to the point today!
The guy's name is JOHN E. WELSONS. For 25 years he has been counseling, teaching and lecturing about life's losses. it seems he's trained with really smart people, one of whom is Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (whoever she is). that's enough for me; i'm sold: Death Expert seems about right to me.
anyway, JB, brother jonathan bruce, this one's for you! i loved your honesty in your comment response the other day so i'll bring it in to start off the conversation:
I can definitely relate to the desire to make the grieving process sterile and speedy. During the past week or so, I have found myself "annoyed" with the fact that dad had to pass just a couple weeks into an insanely busy first semester of engineering school. I stare at a physics problem for too long and before I know it, my mind wanders back to the mountains of GA, with dad as a highlight in every scene. As I struggle with the inconveniences of life, I quickly feel sheepishness and like a total selfish jerk. Obviously, there were eternal timelines in place here and I need to embrace "grief's primative rawness" and let it work it's course. Sometimes life happens quickly, but most often, it takes place gradually over time - like a well aged wine or cheese.
That's good stuff brother!!! well written (always) and oh so honest. the honest places are where we can really roll up our sleeves and get some stuff figured out. with a little help from Mr. Death Expert himself. tim and i discovered this little passage over breakfast this morning, and man did it bring up interesting conversation between us! hope it will for all of us here too:
Our cultural conditioning has been to close our hearts when we experience "emotional overload".....when we close our hearts just when we most need them to be open, we stop the flow of love just when we need it the most. And we don't even realize that we're doing it!
The result is that we become numb. We feel as if just beneath the surface lies this terrifying, raging, monstrous beast of feelings that will devour and obliterate us if we so much as let one claw out of the cage. We sit on our feelings like a gargoyle guarding the gates of hell. We shove them down and shove them down because we're afraid they'll destroy and overwhelm us. We're afraid there's no way out.
OK NOW HERE'S WHERE IT GETS GOOD
(ok well the gargoyles guarding those gates are pretty cool too)
the way out is the way through...to find the place in ourselves that watches the process like a impassive observer...to find that tiny little part of our awareness that sees everything we go through without judgement, sometimes with bemusement. It's that part of us that sees our relief when a loved one has died after a long debilitating illness...the part of us that sees our guilt about feeling relief....the part that wants laugh just at the moment we are most angry. That's the part of our awareness with which we must become more familiar, which we must learn to trust. That's the part of ourselves that can see it all without panic.
So , bro...i feel your pain, whether its a sense of relief or annoyance. what do you think of this guy's advice? what would you say to yourself if you were an IMPASSIVE OBSERVER -- a type of neutral third party -- ready without judgement to give yourself some advice before your Dad Weekend begins?
QUESTION for the GANG
(that's you, dear reader!!)
stepping outside yourself to become an IMPASSIVE OBSERVER is one way to work through grief. have you ever tried it? any other strategies you'd like to recommend? personal stories welcome!!!
tomorrow mom's family arrives, auntie sandi and auntie donna. quite excited for this!