Grief and Gratitude

This morning, my shower was once again my sanctuary. As the water ran over my tired body, tears also flowed as if they finally had space to be set free. I thought of the people in Nepal whose lives have literally been shaken up and torn apart in a matter of seconds; of the after shocks that must be rippling through their land and their hearts; of the unimaginable pain and fear they must be going through. I inhaled and called upon God and the Angels to help them and then me, so that I didn’t feel so much. But in that same breath, I stopped myself.

‘Why not feel it? Why not feel the pain for a moment, whoever it belongs to?’ I thought. As a sensitive person, I am acutely aware of how important it is to stay in my own energy and not to carry other people’s pain but in this case, I wanted to stay with it. To allow my beating heart that was One with everything to just feel what it felt.

As my mind was flooded with images of the devastation in Nepal, and other places I could not name, I could barely think straight. It was unimaginable, even though it felt like part of me had been transported there. It all happened very quickly but I sent as much love as I could and soon, the pictures altered to remind me of those closer to home. The grief of losing a child, a sister, a partner; those who had lost their hair, their limbs, their money, the life they once knew. It all came rising up. My heart ached for them, and suddenly myself, as my own grief surfaced in the tears. Tears that I could not run to lift my nephew up yesterday when he wanted a hug; for the times that will happen over and over again, for the kind of passionate love I am yet to experience, for the touch I am yet to know, for how it all feels so far away. For the way my teenage years were spent being in pain every day; and how I have to think so much about whether I can travel to London tomorrow to see a friend because I can’t just jump on and off a train or a tube like hundreds of others do. For all the things I have missed out on and those that might always remain a dream. And, and, and…

I began chastising myself for being so self-pitying when I was enjoying a hot shower in a comfy, safe home. I do not have a life-threatening illness, I have not lost a child, nor was I in Nepal. My feelings seemed a little ridiculous at first. But grief is grief. How often do we stand in judgment of ourselves or others rather than remembering how alike we all truly are — how we are all doing the best we can with what we know? And honestly, what I know right now is that it doesn’t serve anyone — least of all ourselves —  to compare anything or to belittle our feelings. They matter. Because we matter.

I do believe that everything happens for a reason. But I also believe that some things may never make sense. I do believe that life is amazing and there is so much to be thankful for but it is also HARD and to deny that is to be a robot. I don’t want to be a robot, I want to be a human. I want to be REAL. I want to be surrounded by others who show me who they are, too. Including their tears. To me, that’s when I get to bear witness to how beautiful and brave they are.

And so, I believe that grief and gratitude are not exclusive. They can walk hand and hand together in our life experience. In fact, I think allowing ourselves to ride the waves of human loss, to break down, to fall apart, to allow ourselves to be cracked open, so to speak, is actually what makes way for a deeper sense of gratitude and faith. It is the reason I do what I do, the reason why I celebrate life as much as I can because I know how painful the flip side can be. It is the reason why some of the people I love most have epic stories of triumph in adversity, because I am drawn to that same fire behind their eyes that says ‘I survived. I now choose to live and I will not waste a moment.’

So whatever you feel, feel it. Give yourself permission to go into that place where you’re mad, sad and heartbroken, even for a few minutes. That is where healing begins, even when we least expect it. Even in the shower on a Sunday morning with the Beatles playing on the radio.

My love and prayers are with you all. Whenever you are in the world.

Anna

Exchanging Pain for Peace

It’s been an intense few days, I must admit. I’ve not slept very well, because my body has been less than comfortable and the not sleeping has only added to my uncomfortableness. Throw in some nausea and well, you get the picture!

I’ve dealt with various physical challenges and illnesses through my life, and while I am well now, people often assume I must be ‘good at dealing with pain’. I would disagree. I am not good with it at all and quite frankly, don’t want to be. Because it’s not who I am.

However, I have realized that ‘fighting’ my body doesn’t work either. There are a million different ‘why’s’ and ‘how comes’ that I’ve asked myself over the years and the reasons may be apparent sometimes, but not always. When this is the case, whether it be a physical or emotional challenge, it can become easy to slip into  ‘why me?’ but that doesn’t work either. That’s victim-hood and serves no one. That is saying ‘I am the pain. The pain is me.‘ The truth is, life happens and if I take a look around, I am humbly aware that each one of us goes through struggles. Hand on my heart, most days I consider myself incredibly blessed.

And so, in times of pain or difficulty, I do my best to ask myself what I can do, what I do have control over, because no matter the circumstances, I can decide how I react. And anyone who knows me well, knows that sometimes my reactions are downright ugly! Ha! However, after talking to some dear friends of mine today,  I realized that the heaviest weight we can all carry about our circumstances is guilt. The kind that lurks in background and says:

‘I should know better!’ ‘I’ve done so much to help myself, what am I missing?’ ‘I am obviously doing something wrong to still be dealing with this!’ ‘I’m clearly not as spiritual as them if i am dealing with this.’ 

Believe it or notI once had a so-called friend tell me that until I was free of my wheelchair and walking like everyone else, I would not be in my power! Needless to say, I was not the one who had forgotten her power and our friendship was never the same after that!

Anyway, I digress. Those questions are another form of victimhood and fear. So how ever much we’ve been taught to analyse ourselves, how much good do these lurking thoughts actually do us, other than to further beat ourselves up? None! How much energy could we save by turning our attention away from trying to figure things out and focusing on what nurtures us? A lot! And how much do we believe that we have to suffer to grow or to teach others? How much do we believe that we are so used to suffering that is just part of what we have to deal with? Perhaps far more than we realize…

So today I made the decision to let go. To let go again. Because I can. To interrupt the patterns that keep me bound in my experience and say ‘I exchange all pain for peace’.

Mother Mary and the Angels who so lovingly encircle themselves around me, reminded me of the power of those words and so I share them with you, too. And if you are still in pain, that’s OK. I will not proclaim to feel 100% great either. But I do feel more at peace with whatever is happening and that makes all the difference in the world because it gives me hope and that means anything is possible! Woohoo! I believe in miracles!

I love you and all your challenges. But I see beyond them. I see you. And I choose to see myself in the same light.

Anna