Some paths in life are meant only for us. Grief is not one of them.
No matter where or when you live, what family or country or economic situation you are born into, no matter the choices you make, the jobs you take, the places you choose to go or those you choose to avoid… you will experience loss within your lifetime. There are many different emotional and physical responses to grief, and everyone reacts to loss in their own way. But there are some golden threads and similarities that tie it all together.
National Grief Awareness Day is an opportunity to find unity in our collective experiences of loss. Look around you now, every person you see has experienced loss in their lives: some may have gone through a divorce, or a broken friendship, some may have been fired from a job they loved, or evicted from a place they called ‘home,’ some may have lost all their investments in Bitcoin, or lost a leg or the ability to walk in a sudden accident, or had a cancer… In any case, though our own personal experiences may differ in the details, the feeling is the same. The reality of loss and longing is the same. And it is this feeling that unites us, this common grief.
The term grief is generally associated with negative emotional effects. It is important to remember though, that grief is rooted in love. You wouldn’t miss and long for something or someone you didn’t love. As Winnie the Pooh says, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
And this is what makes today so special, is that the pain we share today is correlated and rooted in deep love. National Grief Awareness Day is really a day to remember and share the love at the root of it. It is also an opportunity to grow new love for others, through compassion, empathy, and by being vulnerable and sharing our grief with others we can build new bridges for connection and new opportunities to give and receive love. Though the journey through grief sometimes feels overwhelmingly lonely, the act of sharing our grief with others can be incredibly healing.
“The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash what you’re talking about because she experienced that thing too cannot be overstated.” – Cheryl Strayed
And so it is in this spirit that we celebrate National Grief Awareness Day. With all the collective grief our world has experienced since COVID struck, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the frequent shootings, the financial insecurity, the social unrest, we certainly have enough to grieve together today. Let us share our grief so that we may look a little deeper at the roots of it, to find the golden hues of love and lightness there at the core. May we remember that it is indeed love that we are celebrating and remembering today, and by remembering it may we find it alive and all around us again today.
In the words of Charlie Brown, I wish you all “Good grief!”