I remember the day that I realised that grief is a form of love. I was walking in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo and I received a message that a dear friend had died in childbirth. After some moments of shock and disbelief, the grief came crashing down on me like never before, shaking my whole body to the core. These were no ordinary tears. This was grief; it racked my whole body. And in the midst of my unrestrained outpouring there in the forest, I recognised it as love. A deep form of love. I would not grieve like this unless I had loved that which I lost.
From that day on, I decided to fully allow grief when it came knocking at my door. Not to try and bottle it up, as my culture taught in an unspoken way. I decided to be less like the stiff upper lip British, and more like a wailing Italian mourner throwing herself at the coffin. Express it, let it out, let it through unrestrained.
Which was a wise choice because when my marriage broke up, there were plenty more tears to come.
But here’s the amazing thing that I learned: that grief can actually open the heart even deeper. If I had pulled myself together and pretended not to care, I would simply have built another wall around my heart. But by letting the tears flow freely and the groans of grief wail out of me…my tender heart stayed open and even became more able to love. A deeper love was accessible.
I came up with the phrase:
“Every tear that is cried makes space in the heart for more love,”
In the midst of full-on grief, I know how it feels to love without restraint. I notice that at funerals sometimes people let themselves express their love in a way that they never did when the person was alive in their life. Why is that? Why do we wait until it is too late to fully acknowledge the totality of our love?
When grief cracks my heart open that little bit more, I set the intention to keep it open. To keep my heart open for new love to pour forth, without restraint. To love as if it were the last day possible to love. No need to wait for a disaster or loss or death. Let me love as if I were dying; love as if you were dying. Let grief have taught me how to love.
Some Grieving Guidelines
- Grief is DEEP, so create a safe space to express it. It can be way too much for others to hold, and so it does not feel comfortable for anyone in a public space. So either go into your private space and weep into a pillow, or choose someone who can hold space for this emotion to be with you.
- If you feel frozen and cannot access your grief, then use music. Find songs of grief and sing them. In Taoism the voice is known to be connected to the heart, so sing until you cry. Find songs that really trigger your feelings. Of course songs you share with someone, and also you can look at photos of times you shared, reflect on memories…these can all trigger grief. The trick is to allow grief but not wallow in it. Let it pass through like a river washing through you.
- Grief can be shared with others who feel it with you. So if someone you know has passed away, find the company of others in grief and you can share memories and tears and hugs together.
- If you have a broken heart, make sure you heal any resentment. You can say “I’m sorry; please forgive me; thank you; I love you” to a photo of the person (the Hono’polopolo prayer). I like to sing Snatam Kaur’s song “May the long time sun shine upon you” over and over to the person (a photo or memory of them) until I am crying and until my grief and my love are inseparable. Until every tear is an expression of my love, and my heart feels open and loving.
After the storm comes the peace. Eventually the tears stop flowing, and you will be left with a deeper, softer heart ready to love again. Just support yourself through grief, and know that there will be peace at the other end.
“Thank you for breaking my heart
Thank you for tearing me apart
Now I’ve a strong strong heart
Thank you for breaking my heart.”
Sinead O’Conner, from the song Thank you for hearing me
Trainings in Tao Tantric Arts…become a facilitator in the healing and awakening of love, sex and spirit.