A Grieving Hope
“Life is grief.” I heard this phrase spoken by a guest speaker in a class I was attending a few weeks ago. I have thought of it often since. I think it is because there is a universal truth in the phrase “life is grief.”
Life is grief.
Grief is the mourning of what has been lost, the mourning of what could have been. Even for those who have not experienced the loss of a loved one, they have still experienced the loss of a dream, the loss of innocence or the loss of a life not turning out how we had thought it would.
In life, we are constantly walking through grief. We often walk this path alone and completely unaware of the depth to which our grief permeates the entirety of our being. When events occur that force us to face our grief, we are often told to get over it or get through it. If we take too long, according to an arbitrary standard, there must be something wrong with us.
Life is grief.
Grief forces us to face the finality of life and the permanency of the past. What is done is done and cannot be undone. What I have lost I cannot ever get back. The experiences of my past have permanently affected who I am and will be. We were on a path and our trajectory was forever changed by what we do and what has been done to us.
Grief comes after the change and it is always present, though often subtle once the initial shock wears off. It is a sadness that can overwhelm any peace that seeks to comfort. A sadness that drives us to newer and riskier heights of attainment as we seek to ignore its effects on us.
Last year in the late fall, I realized I was sad. Deeply sad, a sadness that could only be accurately described as grief. I was grieving the loss of what I had thought my life during a certain time was going to be. In the realization of this grief, I experienced an onslaught of related emotions to such a degree that my only response was to use all the inner strength I possessed to shut them off and push them away.
I did not want to deal with my loss, I did not want to deal with my grief. I ran from it and tried to ignore it. But, eventually I was forced to deal with my grief. I was unaware at first, simple steps my unconscious mind prodded me to take that became conscious thoughts and actions I deliberately chose though until recently, I was unaware of why.
I still feel grief in my life. I feel overwhelming sadness at loss I have experienced, loss of loved ones and loss of dreams and loss of innocence. I mourn and feel incredible grief for the injustice and inequality found throughout our world. I carry grief with me everywhere I go. I will always carry grief with me everywhere I go. As much as I try, I cannot deny grief its place in my life.
But, I can learn to live with grief, to accept its presence in my life and to be open to what the pain of grief gives me.
That is, grief allows me to have hope. Hope that what has been done and what could have been will not always be what is.
But, hope does not restore what grief mourns. Hope does not take away the painful presence of grief. What is the point of hope? I don’t know. A shallow and contrived coping mechanism that allows us to have some semblance of peace during our short time in this world? A means by which we can ignore the fear that is an eternity of death and the lament of perhaps there is no point, no meaning to our life? I don’t know.
Perhaps, hope is just hope. A belief that there is more to this life than what we have experienced. That we can live in our grief because we can make life better for those who come after us.
In this season of my life, I have felt intensely the tension of soul-crushing grief pushing and prodding and overwhelming. But, this grief is not trying to destroy me, rather it is nurturing a flickering flame of hope that so desperately wants to go out.
Without grief, I cannot have hope. The absence of grief implies one of two realities. One, life is perfect, injustice, inequality and other such atrocities have ceased to exist. Or two, I am in denial. I am ignoring the reality of life. Both realities disregard the need for hope. For, if life is perfect, whether in reality or in my head, what more would I hope for?
Grief allows me to recognize the reality of what life often is. Life is tragic, life is painful, life disappoints. But, only through recognizing life for what it is can we hope to change life.
This is part two of two of reflections on a journey I have been on to improve my emotional/mental health. The first part, on anger can be found here. I can’t honestly say I set out with the intention to write these reflections in the way that I did. That would have been easier, of course. But, sometimes life works out in spite of our intentions.
Thank you for giving me the time of your day to read what I have written. It is a gift that is appreciated.
You are loved, valued and welcomed here,