Photo to the left by Danielle Cohen, creatrix of Amulet magazine. The other night I was having dinner with a friend when she told me about a powerful grief ritual she attended. She shared what a profound influence it had on her and how much her soul needed it, even years after experiencing a deep loss. I had heard once before of this woman’s gifted work and was sorry I was not in town to attend. In the past two to three years, I have been sitting with the meaning of loss, its impact on our lives, and what it means to grieve. It is such a mystery, really. When deep loss hits another human’s life are there enough ways to support it in our culture? Is it the type of grief that is socially acceptable to receive waves of support or is it just too private or personal to share? I was sitting with this the other day after receiving some sad news about a family member, along with some other personal circumstance that seemed unfair it its timeliness (aka, an emotional trigger that related on several levels), when serendipitously I came upon this post from the Good Life Project. About three years ago I was in deep period of sadness, a particular shade of that feeling that was completely new to me. I was waking up to how unexpected and truly hard divorce is and remember not feeling the support my soul was crying out for. I did have several friends I could call on, but none of them had a married partner for almost a decade so they could only understand so much. Also its hard to ask for support when you yourself aren’t totally clear on what you’re needing to begin with. Although, many of my friends were well-intended, it was no way near enough. My dear Mother could only say so much as well, for truly what are you to do when a person is experiencing so much pain. The pain is just there. It exists and you cannot ignore it. For almost one year it felt at times like my solar plexus was in big knot as I drifted off to sleep. My body was experiencing it whether I wanted to or not: its as if it had its own message for me. One way to describe it was that it was like being pulled down to the underworld, or underwater, murky, unclear, deep, slippery, dark, just able to only take the step in front of me. The guilt and shame I was feeling from losing my best friend, who also could no longer could be my best friend, because it threatened his current partnership, was unfathomable at the time. All my childhood sh** was up. My fur was raised and I was heated. There was more than one loss happening too, I should share. There was a multitude of identities within myself, many related to security, along with several relationships of the heart, that I had also pushed away. I needed to push them away, for my soul had to be alone for a while. I did not know where to go but to take flight. And yet, slowly, slowly… like a door opening or window beginning to crack, the light started making its way back in. Little by little I made my way back up to the surface. After spending about five months with some Nepalese Buddhists, doing contact improv (and dropping art for a little while), along with a whole lot of solitude, I felt my hopefulness again. I was still in the waiting room although, or in between two worlds, as Christina Rasumssen so aptly puts it, but at least I could feel the sun rays beginning to cross my face. The warmth was building. The pieces were being put together. Little pearls were being discovered at the bottom of the shore. It could take me paragraphs to describe what those pearls are and I’m not even sure words could do them justice. It was the gift of humility, of building courage, or realizing and understanding the heat I had stored up within me for many many years. It was learning what a good man looked and felt like, or why a man living through the protective armor of his own narcissism was dangerous for the soul. It was so many things. But it was transformational.I feel there are often points in life when you come to a spiritual crossroads, where you either give it your surrendering yes and start dancing again, or duck back under and hide. I am grateful for my ability to step back out on the dance floor, along with the many human angels that helped make that happen whether they realized it or not. There is a grace, unwavering, silent, and flowing. This grace is my muse. It flourishes the well after its deepening through grief. It breathes compassion into understanding the lives of others. It calms the soul after a long arduous journey. Sometimes losses are pearls in disguise, it just takes the act of opening further to feel and see them. It’s not that you do not know about that loss anymore, it still resides there, it has just taken up less room in your soul-house. The fulfillment of your soul is your calling, even more so when risen above its ashes of the past.