Perspectives« back to news
Back in 1999, when our first son died at birth after a perfectly healthy, full-term pregnancy, I remember looking around at my life and wondering how it was that it all seemed the same, but felt entirely different. When we later had two other sons who also died at birth earlier in my pregnancies, I was a little more familiar with the realization that everything on initial glance might look the same, but it all actually was entirely different. Still, it was often difficult to get a handle on grief — and living in the face of grief.
When I, or others, seemed the most impatient with grief was when the world pushed for things to “get better” or “get back to normal.” The cliché many of us heard was something about, “Time heals all wounds.” But as my own experience unfolded, and with most bereaved parents I’ve worked with over the years in my coaching practice, well, none of us really found this to be true. It might be closer to the truth to say something like: time gives us the opportunity to look at grief from all sides and integrate what we discover through the exploration of the various perspectives.
We can think about this idea creatively. If you were an artist and had an object or model you wanted to work with to create a new piece, what would you do? Well, whether you are sketching, painting, sculpting, or doing photography, you’d probably want to create as much opportunity as possible to explore all perspectives on that object or model. You’d want to look at it from all sides. Find the best light, best position, and a good angle. If you are truly practicing your art, you’ll want to see the worst light, most off balance position, and the ugliest angle, too. You’ll want to see all the perspectives in between those two extremes also.
Why? Well, it isn’t that artists are wasting time. It isn’t that they are being difficult to work with or procrastinating on doing the “real” work. It isn’t that they are avoiding the “finished” product. Rather they are exercising their skills. They are working their artistic visioning muscles. They are living a practice, not a perfect! And they are getting a handle on the scope of the object or model, finding the edges, integrating an understanding of what they see and how they can create from what they see.
What if we were to do this with grief instead of trying to “get over it” or “heal it” or “get better” as if grief were a germ based sickness we were trying to get rid of?!? What if instead of avoiding the shattering of our hearts, just what if, instead, we were to pour ourselves a cuppa and have a good long look at grief?!? What if we were willing to stand on our heads to look at it upside down? What if we climbed high up on a ladder to look down at it? What if we closed our eyes and used only our fingertips to explore the shape of grief? What if we purposely looked for the best lighting, position, and angle from which to film grief? What if we purposely looked for the worst lighting, most off balance positioning, and the ugliest angle from which to photograph grief?
Might we then be finding ways to approach living life after grief in a heart-full way instead of living a life of avoidance? We could be discovering new ways to integrate all that has happened instead of trying to “get over it” with some false hopes of “returning to normal” — as if it were possible to return to being exactly the person you were before experiencing loss!?! If we take this exploratory path instead, we actively start living a practice of permission, giving ourselves opportunity to look at grief from all sides as a way to begin to integrate all that has happened to us. At the very least, we are approaching grief in an active way instead of sitting back hoping against hope that the cliché is true and time alone will heal all wounds.
You try it out this coming week. Explore your grief experience from all sides. Just see if giving yourself opportunity, as well as time, can help you to integrate all that has happened in your life. Please feel free to share your process and results with us by leaving comment. I’ll do my best to reply to everyone.
About The Author
Kara LC Jones is mother to three dead sons, a living son and daughter, and three amazing grandchildren. She is author of the book Mrs. Duck and Woman among others, and co-founder of both KotaPress and the Creative Grief Studio. Through the CreativeGriefStudio.com, and in partnership with Cath Duncan of Remembering For Good, she offers creative grief education for professionals through a 4-month certification program. In her private practice, she is the coach and heARTist behind the works at GriefAndCreativity.com and MotherHenna.com. Her artworks are available in the Red Bubble gallery at Motherhenna.Redbubble.com.