GRIEF: Facing the Vulnerability of Loving
I was at a friend’s house this week and she was showing me a bird’s nest that had been blown out of the tree. Three baby birds were dead. At the sight of this, I was overwhelmed with sadness and began to cry. My grief was for not just the babies, but for the mother bird.
As my friend hugged me and let me cry, I realized I was mourning the loss of my own baby. My daughter Catherine Rose died at birth; she would have been sixteen years old this month.
Added to my intense feelings of loss was the truth that loving is vulnerability.
Motherhood is vulnerability.
There’s no escaping the risks we take parenting children. There’s no denying how scary it can be. The day I lost my baby, my mother was there with me in the hospital. It was a moment of history repeating itself; my mother lost a baby too. She never had the chance to hold her stillborn baby, who was named Catherine Mary, the way I got to hold my Catherine Rose. But I was able to hand my baby to her and give her the opportunity to grieve.
I was thinking about how there was a gift in that experience. Then, later that day, I was back at home and let my dogs out in the back yard. Before I knew what was happening, the dogs had found a bunny nest in the grass and killed six baby bunnies.
This was arguably more upsetting than the death of the baby birds. This time, though, I was able to feel sadness without being overwhelmed by it. By taking the time to allow the deep sense of grief I’d felt earlier in the day, I was able to find a greater sense of acceptance.
I could stand in the knowing that this is life.
Living and loving are inextricably linked to grief. We’re grieving all the time; I know single women who feel a form of grief when they start dating again, mothers (including me) who grieve their preteens becoming teens, adult daughters who grieve the way their elderly mothers change and fade away.
Grief isn’t just a physical feeling; it’s a wound that takes place on a soul level. It’s meant to be deeply felt. But we’re so caught up in distracting ourselves with all the busyness of the world that we rarely allow ourselves to pause.
I’ve learned that when these feelings arise, I’m being given an opportunity for healing. No matter what the situation is or how unconnected it may seem, if I stay grounded, present, and connected to my breath, my body will lead me to the insights I need to become lighter and freer.
I do this by tuning into the part of my body that feels the discomfort. I ask myself: Who is it within me that got triggered? What part of me? What age is that part of me? What is the fear?
Then I gently extend compassion to whatever arises.
On that day of witnessing the intense and sometimes cruel forces of nature, I chose to honor the loss of the baby birds and the baby bunnies. I sat in my yard and sent a prayer of apology to the mother rabbit. And I honored my own losses.
If you’re ready to give yourself permission to grieve, please join me for Jennifer Gronbach’s upcoming workshop:
Breathing Beyond Grief
September 27 - 29
The Clearing Center