Saturday, February 18, 2012

Embracing Sadness

I ran across this article by Nancy Colier the other day.  (excerpt below)

 It reflects, in better words than I can find, what I've thought since Mark's diagnosis of cancer in June of 2006.  That diagnosis, his struggle to live, and his eventual death were reasons to be sad and "depressed".  Some encouraged me, at the slightest sign of what they considered "depression" to seek help of counselors and support groups.  I could have done so.  I wasn't adamantly opposed to such things and I am still not.  However, an inner voice kept telling me, "Isn't this a sad thing that has happened to you and Mark?  Shouldn't you be sad about it?"  I wasn't crippled by sorrow and unable to live life and be happy with him for the time we had left.  Our happy times were magnified by knowing that our time together was limited (so it is for all, not all have to experience truly knowing that).    

And so I feel about my bereavement, my grief walk.  This isn't an illness that I have.  It's a huge emotion that I experience every day to varying degrees.  There are happy moments, good memories, important work to be done as well as the simple chores of house and home.  Under it all runs the current of grief.   It has to happen, it has to be lived and experienced in order for me to move on.  I truly think that.

Excerpt from an article by Nancy Colier:

"As a society, we have no idea how to experience and be with sadness -- or fear, anxiety, anger or frustration for that matter. We are not educated on how to manage difficult emotions, one of life's most important skills. Rather, we are taught (and are teaching our children) that sadness is the enemy and that if we allow it to exist, it will destroy us. As a result, we will do anything and everything to avoid feeling it. Even funerals are designed to make us happy, to celebrate the wonderful life the person enjoyed, but certainly not to feel sad that they are no longer here. Our entire self-help industry is tailored to help us avoid feeling sad, to teach us how to arrange our lives so that we never have to feel anything difficult. Where these programs fail however, is when we end up in a situation where we cannot control or deny our sadness. Then what? Then we are deemed weak, and worse -- failures for feeling what is actually appropriate.
In truth, we can learn to be with sadness, not to fear it, but to simply accept it as another of life's experiences that can be lived through. The fact that sadness appears is not a sign of our failure. Its absence is not a sign of strength, other than perhaps the strength of denial. Sadness is simply a part of life. The sooner we allow it a seat at our inner table, the sooner we can get on with the business of living. When we allow ourselves to feel sadness when it arrives, to embrace and bring kindness to it -- not judge ourselves for experiencing it -- it is then that we grow truly strong. We know that we can confidently face whatever comes. True strength can only arise out of the truth.
So too, when we are able to feel sadness, we are also able to feel joy when it shows up, and the gratitude that accompanies it. We cannot deny the emotions that we don't want and expect ourselves to be able to fully experience the emotions that we do want. We do not need to expend so much effort trying to control our lives so that sadness is kept out; such is a task for Sisyphus. What we need is to teach ourselves and our children that when sad things happen, we are sad -- that sadness comes and goes (as does happiness) and that ultimately, we can stand like the big oak tree and weather whatever winds pass through us. To be strong is not to outrun sadness, but rather to learn to embrace it when it is here, to take good care of it so that it can heal. This is a warrior's strength, a wise parent's strength. The sadness will pass, as all emotions do, but we will remain, stronger and more solid in our ability to
live -- and love -- with what is. "

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