A November of Grief


Grief is a deep sorrow, usually brought on by a person’s death.  Grief may also be brought on by the death of a relationship, loss of innocence, loss of a given reality, and loss that touches your heart and/or forces you to change your relationship with someone or something.

This Fall, I felt a lot of loss. I lost my Aunt Tina to cancer. She was a vibrant, outgoing, and beautiful woman who shaped who I was in so many ways.  Her death was not a shock but the lasting effects of it are still hard. She left behind a husband and son who adored her and too many friends to count. If you met Tina, you never forgot her. This loss started November off with a sadness in my heart that just set the stage for more hurt.


I encountered other losses this fall that shook up my beliefs in myself, my country, my family, my neighbors…everything I believed in. Although no one else died, a piece of me felt like it. I actually felt myself slide through the stages of mourning….denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. In the end, a hole was left that will serve as a memory for the rest of my life.

It is strange how things can affect our emotions and feelings by altering our reality. Obviously, loved ones have the greatest effect on us. But isn’t it wild how information that changes our perspective of a person, place or thing can also have this effect?

How do we recover from loss? I think we allow ourselves to feel the loss. Sit with the discomfort, the pain, the overwhelming emotions. I don’t mean ‘sit with’ like we hold it in and pretend nothing is wrong but ‘sit with’ the pain and feel it, think about it, name it, dance with it. Let ourselves grieve and fall from exhaustion from the process.

In a mindfulness practice, we name the emotion whereby removing some of the power it has over us and this allows different parts of the brain to quite down…just by naming it, we can disengage from the negativity and let it go. By letting go, we heal.

This idea or theory was depicted in the movie “Collateral Beauty” starring Will Smith and a host of other talented actors. Will Smith loses his daughter and the movie follows his grief and how it affects those around him. It is both heart wrenching and inspiring at the same time. In the movie, Will’s character struggles to process his grief but finds the strength to move through it with the help of his friends, Time, Love, and Death. It is actually a very cathartic movie. (go see it and bring some tissue) #Findthebeauty

This made me think about how we must look to all the good that can come out of a bad situation. It may not be a direct relationship but good will rise. It always does. You just have to look for it or make it yourself.

When we lose a loved one, it’s hard to think about the good that comes out of it and maybe that will take time…a long time. Or maybe we have to make some good from it by living a good/happy life, honoring that loved one, providing hope for others, etc.

When I was processing my negative emotions, I hurt my back. Tension, anger and other emotions do have physical consequences. Our muscles tighten and our minds are distracted. It is the perfect storm. In one way, having the pulled muscle forced me to focus on my health and less on my feelings of loss and anger. I realized that I couldn’t let my negative feeling affect my life, my health, and my family. I needed to move forward in a more constructive nature and I created a plan.

Someone once told me November is the month of death. This November sure proved that right. But with death comes rebirth. The sun goes to sleep and then it rises, winter becomes spring, darkness is replaced by light. Good will prevail over evil.

I realize it all makes sense. The ebb and flow of dark and light; good and bad. We would not appreciate one without the other. Sometimes we forget how good we have it and why we do what we do and need to be reminded, which is why history repeats itself…over and over again.

So no matter how dark this Fall felt and no matter how bad things get…it’s all temporary. Change will come again.

In the meantime…

I chose love.

I chose to be happy and healthy.

I chose to #findthebeauty

I chose to rise.

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