Just finished The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman. One of the exercises she suggests is making a list of Life-Draining things that have recently been present in your life and a list of Life-Giving things presently in your life.
My Life-Giving list included: time with family and friends, being out in nature, exercising, eating good food, prayer and quiet time, meditation, writing, and my work. There was another item on my list - “Feeling what I feel.”
As I sat back and reviewed both my lists, I was surprised. “Feeling what I feel” would not have been on my Life-Giving list if not for a corresponding item on my Life-Draining list — GRIEF.
I would have chosen any other way imaginable than losing Chandler to learn how to feel what I feel. But since this is how the lesson came wrapped, I accept the gift with gratitude. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t welcome Chandler’s death with gratitude. But since I can’t change the fact that he’s not here any more, I can honor him by accepting with gratitude every gift that comes to me through the grief process.
With grief comes a myriad of emotions, often overwhelming, and sometimes not easily distinguishable from one another. They are deep and demand your attention. You can stuff them, ignore them, express them in logical terms, or try to keep moving so they don’t catch you.
Or you can acknowledge them, name them, sit with them, feel them. My tendency is to think about and talk about my feelings. That’s easier than feeling them. Analyzing and expressing in concise language how I feel allows me to sidestep the experience of just sitting with my feelings.
I’m learning that when I feel afraid, or sad, or disappointed, or angry, or whatever emotion resides in me at any given moment, I can feel it and be OK. It won’t overtake me and control my life unless I allow it to. I can acknowledge and honor my feelings because they are valid and they give me good information. When I allow myself to feel my feelings, I am more alive, more fully human. It seems I have access to a wider range of every emotion, including greater depths of the ones I really like — joy, contentment, serenity.
Oh, if you’re wondering what else is on my Life-Draining list….I refuse to testify for fear that I might incriminate myself. I will say that my Life-Giving list was way longer than my Life-Draining list.
Another gift for which I’m deeply grateful.
(Preface: I am known in our family for having no spatial sense, therefore running over curbs on a regular basis)
Guy in front of me ran over curb.
Mom: I just want to go tell him, “Don’t feel bad – happens to all of us – well, some of us.”
Chandler: “Or maybe just us.”