Search This Blog

March 16, 2014

Not a Sad Blog

Ysabel de la Rosa
I invited a friend to visit this blog a few weeks ago. It was her first and will most likely be her last visit to Getting Along with Grief. "It's sad," she said. "I prefer to celebrate." Her words set me thinking. Last week I visited my childhood home town. Like cinnamon and vanilla in a cake recipe, these two elements--her words and my recent trip--have seasoned my thoughts for a few days.

I grew up in a rural Texas town that had lots of potential, but was short on folks with vision. One visionary that did live there was my college art professor. I vividly remember looking at his drawings for the beautiful and architecturally significant place he believed that our town's 19th century "square" could become. I remember the light in his large, blue eyes as he talked about that vision. He did everything he could to share that future with others, even looking for funding sources. This was the 1960s in rural Texas, though. His dream was not realized in his lifetime, but it is alive and well today. I walked the square and saw my teacher's dream completely come to life. People were walking everywhere. There are two wine-tasting venues on the square now, antique stores, art galleries, day spas, restaurants--with lines of people waiting to get in. The church pictured at right is the church that my teacher and his family attended. Today it is part of the "restored" downtown he imagined. Could I experience all this with joy? Of course. Did I feel grief? También. Grief that my teacher was not physically present to see his dream come true. Grief that his vision was not understood in his lifetime. Did the joy outweigh the grief? Yes, it did. Was I sad? No. 

I have been reading a great book by Dr. Bill Stott and John Lee, Facing the Fire: Experiencing and Expressing Anger Appropriately. It is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it. Much of what they write about anger also applies to grief; above all, this:  It needs to be expressed. 

Emotion has motion inside. It is meant to move. If we dam a river at the wrong spot, there is hell to pay. This blog is here for the sake of expressing e-motion, and to help us move and then move on--productively. Just as anger, properly recognized and expressed, can motivate us to make important changes, expressing grief can free us to unblock the rivers inside us and keep life flowing within us.

Maybe this expression can do more than keep us moving, maybe expressing our grief(s) can free us to find new kinds of happiness. My comadre, whom I also saw on my trip "back home," lost her son in a car accident 12 years ago. I remember meeting that beautiful young man as a babe in arms. Then, two decades later, he was gone. Last weekend, though, I got to see my comadre with another baby:  her first grandson. What fun we had with him and he with us! Even at four months, his intelligence and sense of humor is evident. Watching him observe the world around him was, as it so often is with infants, a miracle moment.

My friend and I still talk about her son. We always will. We will always grieve him. And somehow that expression helps us open the door to this new joy, this new boy, this new wonder. I can't explain how it does this, but I can experience it.  And be grateful.

Grief is part of the tapestry, but only a part. Expressing our grief does not have to add sadness to our lives just as, Dr. Stott and John Lee explain, expressing anger does not have to bring destruction into our lives, if we can express it appropriately. Blocking such expression, however, can lead to deep sadness that holds us back from living life to the fullest.

I hope this blog's readers will understand that this blog, unlike so many others published today, is not about opinions, "likes," debates, or publicity. It is simply, and importantly, a safe and aesthetic "place," for expression of that deep and difficult emotion that life brings us: grief.

Ysabel de la Rosa

On my trip to my childhood home, I walked through the park where I spent many enchanted hours on the banks of the San Gabriel River. The river is more beautiful than ever, and I felt the same sense of wonder at age 59 as I did at age 9, looking at the roots of the trees that grow by its banks, gazing into the clear spring water that feeds into the river, and touching the odd rock "shelters" constructed around the springs.  Much has happened in those five decades, including many losses, and yet, the river flows. The river--not the same river, as Herclitus wisely told us--but the river and its flowing remain, alive as ever.
Ysabel de la Rosa

So, here's to getting along with its healthy expression, to loss lived, joy embraced, and the beauty that finds us along the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment